CurtainUp
CurtainUp
The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings
HOME PAGE

SITE GUIDE

SEARCH


REVIEWS

REVIEW ARCHIVES

ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP

FEATURES

NEWS
Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


LISTINGS
Broadway
Off-Broadway

NYC Restaurants

BOOKS and CDs

OTHER PLACES
Berkshires
London
California
New Jersey
DC
Philadelphia
Elsewhere

QUOTES

TKTS

PLAYWRIGHTS' ALBUMS

LETTERS TO EDITOR

FILM

LINKS

MISCELLANEOUS
Free Updates
Masthead
Writing for Us


A CurtainUp Review
KLEYNKUNST!


Yosssi, the sentimental singer who promises you the world and gives you the clap. .mdash;—at the Kleynkunst
Rebecca Joy Fletcher  & Stephen Mo Hanan  in Kleynkunst
Rebecca Joy Fletcher & Stephen Mo Hanan in KLEINKUNST! (Photo: Jeff Fasano )
Between the two world wars, Jews were thirty percent of the population of Warsaw. Poland had become an independent state after hundreds of years of foreign rule and the rising Jewish middle class reflected the optimism and creative ferment of the entire nation. This was especially evident in Yiddish cabaret culture known as kleynkunst or "little art."

KLEYNKUNST! Warsaw's brave and brilliant Yiddish Cabaret is the 93-year old National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene's tribute to those heady times. Written, researched and originally produced by Rebecca Joy Fletcher, it is filled with songs, sketches and satire that reflect and celebrate that vibrant art.

Fletcher co-stars with Stephan Mo Hanan, who returns to the Folksbiene after playing the Groyse-General in last season's Di Yam Gazlonim. They are directed by Broadway veteran Michael Montel, who shows an infinite respect for the art he is re-creating, and accompanied by Bob Goldstein on the piano (he's also the very capable musical director).

Fletcher and Hanan perform fourteen songs and sketches in Yiddish and English (the English lyrics are by Jeremy Lawrence). Non-Yiddish speakers are helped along the way by English and Russian supertitles throughout. These songs and sketches were originally performed in the famed Ararat Club, the Warsaw and Cracow ghettoes, and throughout Yiddish-speaking Europe.

The numbers include a Yiddish version of Kurt Weill and Bertholt Brecht's "Mack the Knife"; a melodrama about an unhappy maid who wears red nail polish so no one will see the horseradish stains on her fingernails; a moving hymn to Krokhamalne Street; and (yes!) a Jewish drinking song, "Whiskey!"

Many of the songs have Hassidic-inflected melodies, but the delightful "Kum, Leybke. Tansen!" (Come, Leybke — dance!) reflects the tango and Charleston crazes that were sweeping the dance world at that time.

Before 1939, the Jews of Warsaw were still able to laugh at anti-Semitism. "Oy, Madagaskar!" makes fun of the Polish government and suggests that Jews should escape European persecution by immigrating to Africa, where they can lie in the sun and live among the natives.

"The Last Jew in Poland," based on Shimon Dzigan's descriptions in his memoirs (original sketch 1938), is a hilarious send-up of what would happen if Poland did actually get rid of all its Jews. According to this sketch, the economy would go to pot, students would riot because there would be no Jews to beat up, there would be no more cabarets or good music, and even the prostitutes would not be as good looking. A sorry state!

After the Nazi invasion, cabaret did not cease; it just became more serious. "Moments of Believing" and "The Song of our Time," are powerful reminders of the spirit that helped Jews survive Nazi persecution.

Brian Nason's set and Gail Cooper Hecht's lighting are enormously effective at reproducing the cabaret atmosphere. They serve as a wonderful frame for Fletcher and Hanan's radiant performance.

KLEYNKUNST! is all about the power art has for enabling people to celebrate life and endure its hardships. It is about the human capacity for bravery, appreciation of beauty and gift of healing. And it is brilliant. Mazel Tov!

KLEYNKUNST! Warsaw's brave and brilliant Yiddish Cabaret
Written by Rebecca Joy Fletcher
Directed by Michael Montel
Musical Director, Pianist and Arrangements by Bob Goldstone
English Lyrics by Jeremy Lawrence
Cast: Rebecca Joy Fletcher and Stephen Mo Hanan
Set & Lighting Design: Brian Nason
Costume Design: Gail Cooper-Hecht
Sound Design: Don Jacobs
Choreographer: Amanda Bena-Weber
Running Time: 90 minutes without intermission
Presented by The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Avenue at 76th Street
From 11/18/07, opening 11/29/07, closing 12/30/07.
Sat at 8pm, Sun at 2pm & 6pm
Additional performances 11/29/07, 12/5/07, 12/12/07, 12/15/07
. Tickets: $40, $50 (212) 279-4200
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons at 11/24/07 press preview.

Google
 
Web    
www.curtainup.com


Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
Wicked
Jersey Boys
The Little Mermaid
Lion King
Shrek The Musical



The  Playbill Broadway YearBook
The Playbill Broadway YearBook


Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide


broadwaynewyork.com


amazon




©Copyright 2007, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from esommer@curtainup.com