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The Time of Mendel's Trouble
If you think this sounds something like Fiddler on the Roof and you're expecting funny and ironic discussions with God punctuated by lively klezmer-inspired music, think again. Indeed, much of Ginsberg's music does have the minor-key inflections and lively rhythms of Ashkenazi music, but the similarity ends here.
Mendel is not a 21st century Tevye the milkman, but a messianic prophet who teams up with Murray Schwartz, from Miami Beach (Chris Reber) to preach the Apocalypse as described in the book of Revelations. Like Jesus before him, Mendel is scorned by Jews who do not see the light. But he does make a convert of the young and beautiful Molly (Desiree Lulay), as well as her father, the rabbi (Ira Denmark).
They all end up in Jerusalem just in time for the Apocalypse, which comes as a result of the conspiracy between the UN; a Clintonesqe couple, Scarlett O'Harlett (Adrienne Doucette) and her husband Don Juan O'Harlett (Ryan Hilliard); Beelzebub (Matt Landers) and his "furry Palestinian puppets" who plot (against God's will) to take the land of Israel away from the Jews.
If The Time of Mendel's Trouble were merely messianic, it might be considered misguided. If its aim were just political satire, it would be foolish and somewhat offensive. But Ginsberg's mixture of religion and politics is truly disturbing. And his attempt at disguising his insidious message as a musical is both dangerous and insulting to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.
In fact, Ginsberg is a former entertainment attorney turned messianic Jewish believer who has authored two other musicals in the "Mendel Cycle." Twenty-five years ago he and his wife, Wendy, formed Jeremiah Ministries, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, in the State of California.
If the show had redeeming qualities in the acting or the execution of the songs, it might be possible to stomach some of its obnoxious content. But this is a thoroughly amateurish production. Ginsberg is a gifted composer and there are a few good voices in the show, but musical director Peter P. Fuchs is unable to modulate his sopranos so they don't sing solos in ensemble numbers. The male voices are for the most part too weak to be easily heard.
It's hard to imagine how this show could be well acted. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine why an accomplished actor would want to be associated with this production. It's even harder to conceive of why anyone would want to see it.
Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
The Little Mermaid
Shrek The Musical
In the Heights
Playbill 2007-08 Yearbook
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide