On July 16, Grandma Sylvia will have her 1000th funeral -- no, that's not an urgent plea for a coroner, it's a congratulatory notice that Off Broadway's Grandma Sylvia's Funeral will give its 1000th performance at the 7:30 PM show.
In the interactive comedy, members of the audience take part in what purports to be a real New York Jewish funeral, complete with wacky family members, food, dancing and luxuriant weeping.
The show started at the Playhouse on Vandam -- now called Soho Playhouse -- Oct. 4, 1994. Producer Dana Matthow (Walter Matthau's nephew) took a long-term lease on the space, and instead of doing the usual eight-shows-a-week, started with 3 shows and built up from there. "I think it's important to control the supply of tickets at the beginning of a show's run," Matthow explained. "Mass-market advertising, which is needed to fill seats early on, is so expensive, the risks are sometimes too much to bear. I wanted to give myself as much time as possible."
The show bears similarities to its still-running predecessor, Tony `n Tina's Wedding, but also tries to be darker. To that end, co-creator and director Glenn Wein made sure that most of Grandma Sylvia's Funeral was scripted rather than improvised. The show was conceived by Wein and Amy Lord Blumsack.
Currently starring in Funeral are Steve Axelrod, Jaid Barrymore (Drew's mom), Fred Berman, Paul Eagle, David Ellzey, Holgie Forrester, Steawrt Alan Frey, Mark Robert Gordon, Sondra Gorney, Ian Grey, Steve Grillo (intern from the "Howard Stern Show"), Kimberly King, Andrea Kolb, Rob Kramer, Simone Lazer, Elisa London, Diana Nafta, Stacey Hope Prussman, David Eric Rosenberg, Mimi Scott, Larry Sherman, Stanley Allan Sherman, Johnette Sullivan, Bart Tangredi and George Theodore. Grandma Sylvia's Funeral is playing at the Soho Playhouse in Manhattan. For tickets or information: (212) 691-1555.
For tickets ($37.50-$57.50) and information on Grandma Sylvia's Funeral, call (212) 691-1555. (Members of the Playbill On-Line Club receive a 25% discount from now through Sept. 29.)
--By David Lefkowitz