When Mendel Moskowitz's sarcastic attitude toward Passover is overheard by God, he's cast back into ancient Egypt as a Hebrew slave. In Jeremiah and Wendy Ginsburg's musical comedy, Mendel And Moses, Brooklyn boychik Mendel ends up a comedic sidekick and right-hand-man to Moses, with both using diplomatic strategy to get the Jews out of tzuris -- and out of Mizrayim. The press release for Los Angeles' Century City Playhouse promises, "the Exodus was never funnier!"
Oddly enough, Ginsberg's musical doesn't open until after Passover -- May 3 -- but like The Ten Commandments, the show seemingly has a cast of thousands, with 18 performers playing more than 50 characters. Tunes run "from Hebraic ballads to Broadway-style showstoppers," with musical direction by Darrin Degenhardt and choreography by Tanya Everett-Bagot and Wally Bagot.
Starring in the show are Jesse Garn @ses, Ciro Barbaro as Mendel, Elkin Antoniou, Cassie Byram, Mary Chen, Spencer Cherashore, Dan Collins, Tomas Guajardo, Brad Heller, Chris Harper-Johnston< Carol Hurley, Margaret Hurley, Karen Kataline, Danny Otero, Kerima Reed, Leah Stanko, Daniel Tirman, and Ned York. (By the way, according to publicist Michael Patrick, Garnee is part native-American, part French Canadian; Barbaro is Italian by way of the Bronx -- neither is Jewish.)
Designing Mendel & Moses are Mark Henderson (set), Martyn Bookwalter (lighting), and Debbie Gluck (costumes).
Spokesperson Patrick told Playbill On-Line the authors plan to take the show to the 500-seat Equity house, the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills (where Bermuda Avenue Triangle lanuched after its run at the Tiffany). A New York run is not out of the question "if reviews and reception" go well. Songs in the show include, "Mendel & Moses" (sung by Moses and Mendel), "The Land Of Milk And Honey" (sung by the Hebrew slaves), "Frogs," "Onions And Garlic," and the more Hebraic-themed ballads, "Hear O Israel," "For Zion's Sake." For tickets ($20-$22) and information on Mendel & Moses at Century City Playhouse in West Los Angeles, running April 26-June 15, call (888) 566-8499.
--By David Lefkowitz