Klezmer Musical Shlemiel the First Returns to NYC Dec. 13-31

By Kenneth Jones
December 13, 2011

The first major New York City revival of Shlemiel the First, the Klezmer musical based on the play by Isaac Bashevis Singer, begins performances Dec. 13 at the Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan.



Conceived and adapted by Robert Brustein, with lyrics by Arnold Weinstein and composed, adapted and orchestrated by Hankus Netsky, the work is presented by Theatre for a New Audience, National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene, NYU's Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts & Peak Performances at Montclair State University.

Michael Iannucci and Amy Warren star. Zalmen Mlotek handles arrangements, additional music and music direction. The direction, choreography and "editorial supervision" are by David Gordon.

The 1994 world premiere of the Klezmer musical Shlemiel the First was at Boston's American Repertory Theater (ART) and the work was also seen at Philadelphia's The American Music Theater Festival, San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater and Lincoln Center's Serious Fun!, and elsewhere.

Peak Performances at Montclair State University produced Shlemiel in January 2010 at the Alexander Kasser Theater in association with National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene.

Shlemiel takes place in Chelm, a village of fools, where "half sad-sack clown, half accidental messiah, Shlemiel's charm is in his childlike innocence. The charm of this musical is in its playfulness and unapologetic, unalloyed delight. It turns an already absurd world hilariously, and redemptively, topsy-turvy."

Michael Iannucci and Amy Warren are joined by actors Bob Ader, Jeff Brooks, Jesse Means, David Skeist, Darryl Winslow and Kristine Zbornik.

Iannucci, whose recent stage appearances include Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway and Enter Laughing Off-Broadway, plays Shlemiel. Warren, who made her Broadway debut in August: Osage County and played Daisy in Josh Schmidt and Jason Loewith's Adding Machine (Nominee, Outstanding Actress in a Musical, 2008 Lucille Lortel and Drama Desk Awards), plays Mrs. Shlemiel.

Performances are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7 PM with an additional Monday evening performance at 7 PM on Dec. 26. Matinees are Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 PM with and an additional 2 PM matinee Dec. 23 and one 3 PM Sunday matinee Dec. 18. Shlemiel the First runs through Dec. 31. The Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts is at 566 LaGuardia Place.

Single tickets are $10 for ages 25 and under or full-time students and $75 for adults. Tickets may be purchased online at www.nyuskirball.org by phone by calling (866) 811-4111.