In the imaginary town of Chelm, a village of fools, the naive beadle Shlemiel is sent on a pilgrimage to spread the wisdom of the local sages. His simple-minded folly turns an already absurd world hilariously -- and redemptively -- upside down. Half sad-sack clown and half accidental messiah, Shlemiel’s charm is in his childlike innocence; this production's charm is in its playfulness and unapologetic, unalloyed delight. With a cast of eight, a live klezmer band and topsy-turvy set, it gently mocks the lavishness of other musicals.
“In its artfulness and eloquence, Shlemiel The First is better by far than anything currently on Broadway.”John Lahr, The New Yorker
Shlemiel the First, a joyous klezmer musical, received rave reviews after premiering in 1994 at the American Repertory Theatre and went on to delight audiences nationwide. Peak Performances at Montclair State University produced Shlemiel in January, 2010 at The Alexander Kasser Theater.
Previous productions have also appeared at Philadelphia’s The American Music Theater Festival, San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater and Serious Fun! at Lincoln Center among other prestigious venues.
This will be the first New York revival of Shlemiel the First since Serious Fun!
A series of educational events will enhance the run of Shlemiel the First:
November 30 – Klezmer Music Symposium with Zalmen Mlotek, Artistic Director of the National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene, and Hankus Netsky, a composer whose work can be heard in the score of Shlemiel the First. This event will take place at The NYU Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life (7 East 10th Street, 5th floor) and will begin at 8:45pm. Musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments.
December 18 – A post-performance discussion with director/choreographer David Gordon and musical director, Zalmen Mlotek, moderated by Theatre for a New Audience’s founding artistic director, Jeffrey Horowitz.
December 22 – A post-performance discussion with an inter-generational panel of NYU alumni who have worked, or are currently working in Yiddish Theatre, on Yiddish theatrical traditions and its cross-generational appeal. Hosted by Bryna Wasserman (SOA '74), Executive Director and Mattew "Motl" Didner (TSOA '95), Associate Artistic Director of the National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene also with Daniella Rabbani (TSOA ’06), Alec "Leizer" Burko (CAS ‘00), and Natalie Robin (TSOA ‘08).
December 27 – A post-performance talkback with theatre critic, producer, playwright and educator, Robert Brustein who conceived and adapted Shlemiel the First from its source material. Jeffrey Horowitz will moderate.
BASED ON THE PLAY BY ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER
CONCEIVED AND ADAPTED BY ROBERT BRUSTEIN
LYRICS BY ARNOLD WEINSTEIN
COMPOSED, ADAPTED AND ORCHESTRATED BY HANKUS NETSKY
MUSICAL ARRANGEMENTS AND ADDITIONAL MUSIC BY ZALMEN MLOTEK
EDITORIAL SUPERVISION BY DAVID GORDON
MUSIC DIRECTION BY ZALMEN MLOTEK
DIRECTED AND CHOREOGRAPHED BY DAVID GORDON
PRESENTED BY THEATRE FOR A NEW AUDIENCE, NATIONAL YIDDISH THEATRE - FOLKSBIENE, NYU SKIRBALL CENTER, AND PEAK PERFORMANCES AT MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY
Photographer - Gerry Goodstein; from left to right in a scene from Shlemiel the First are Jeff Brooks, Darryl Winslow, Michael Iannucci (as Shlemiel), Jesse Means, David Skeist, and Kristine Zbornik.