The (Jewish) Show Must Go On!.
Miriam Poppins is about an Israeli nanny who floats down from the sky holding oversized Shabbos candlesticks.
While visiting Broadway theaters during a recent trip to NYC, I realized how few shows actually pertain to Judaism. I immediately sought out Tony Booker (the head guy in charge of booking all their Tony award nominated musicals) regarding why this would happen. Of course I then interviewed him for the specific purpose of writing this article – (okay, okay, maybe for the specific purpose of my wild imagination…) and he agreed to allow me to modify some of the more popular productions so they’d be more Jewish, both in title and in plot.
Beauty and the Brisket
All this in exchange for turning over just one of “our own” musicals – Fiddler on the Roof – for him to give a minor tweak, as he saw fit. That seemed a fair and reasonable deal!
So here’s what I did:
Katz – Explores the Nine Lives of a group of petty (or shall we say catty?) females (all married to a man with the Jewish last name of Katz) to discover how they always manage to land on their feet. But by the end of the second act, Curiosity killed the Katz and the cast!
Grease – High school students frying Latkes and Sufganiyot while wearing 1950’s clothing. (Bring napkins to this performance because at high temperatures the audience might get spattered with oil.)
Blessed Side Story – The Jets and the Sharks had it easy compared to these Jewish grandchildren with terrible allergies that have to listen to their maternal side of the family’s relatives exclaiming, “G-d Bless You!” in Hebrew, Yiddish, German, Polish, and Russian every time they sneeze. Gesundheit much?
The Music Man-ischewitz – The owner of the company who makes the famous Passover wine and matzo ball soup mix quits to become a not-so-famous musician. Forget 76 Trombones – 613 Violins anyone?
Miriam Poppins – An Israeli nanny floats down from the sky holding oversized Shabbos candlesticks and coaxes her two young charges into downing their medicine with a spoonful of shakshuka.
Goys and Dolls – Sorry, this was actually a typo. But I couldn’t figure out how to change Guys and Dolls to anything witty so I just left it.
The Sound of Mitzvahs – The nuns are gone and there’s nobody left to solve the problem of Maria. But the hills are still alive with the sound of mitzvahs. And they sound like coins clinking into a pushke! (See next musical!)
The Phantom Pushke of the Opera – The pushke even has a white mask on, but the scariest thing about this tzedakah is you may not get a tax deduction.
Brei Brei Birdie – A Jewish ornithologist discovers a rare species that (during Passover!) hatches its eggs in nests already scrambled with Matzo.
The Zion King – Nu? This pun is so overdone, it should go into production already!
Ima (Mama) Mia – (Here we go again!) Jewish moms sing songs written by their devoted husbands who formed a popular 70’s band called “Abba” – because that’s what their children call them in Hebrew, of course!
Les Mashuganables – Nutty people who dress in rags because they think the sadder the show and the more people who suffer and die, the more awards they’ll win. And they’d be correct.
Beauty and the Brisket – Be our guest at this delectable dinner with really gorgeous side dishes. With lyrics like, “Try the kosher stuff, it’s delicious. Don’t believe me? Ask the fleishig dishes!” – it’s sure to be a real mashgiach crowd-pleaser.
Jersey Boychicks – Hoodlums are hoodlums no matter how cute the Yiddish adjective.
Little Shop of Haggadahs – Finally someone opens a store selling enjoyable, easy to follow, (with English translations!) cute pamphlets that make it simple to lead a Passover Seder with everyone literally on the same page.
Hello Bialy! – The “hole” entire premise of this show can be summed up as “what’s the difference between a bagel and a bialy?” And if you know the answer then sing along – “Well Hello Bialy, you’re looking swell, Bialy! It’s so nice to have you back where you belong!” Note: I wanted to call this show “Hello Deli!” but the place around the corner refused to serve me my corned beef on rye if I stole their restaurant name for my musical.
Shalomalot – This is a spoof on Spamalot which was a spoof on Camelot which means nobody in the show knows whether they’re coming or going since Shalom means both hello and goodbye.
Annie Get Your Gelt – A poor Jewish cowgirl celebrates Chanukah wanting a new horse, but only receives gelt. And 8 pairs of new socks.
Man of La Mensch-a – When you’re a real mensch like this actor, the plot doesn’t even matter and it’s a good thing too, because I can’t think up anything for this one. Hopefully the title is clever enough to entertain audiences.
Sweeney Cod – Fictional Character Sweeny Cohen tries to introduce another fish to lay on top of the cream cheese but everybody keeps singing, “Long Live Lox” so it doesn’t go over so well.
Thoroughly Modern Maven – They’re hip, they’re smart, and they’re tap-dancing their way thru planning their kids’ elaborate Bar-Mitzvahs.
You’re a Big Macher, Charlie Brownberg – No longer just a loveable loser, everybody agrees he’s an important part of The Peanuts now, so his sister Lucy is forbidden to trick him with a football ever again. And when appropriate, “Good Grief” is replaced with “Good Shabbos!”
The Rocky Haftorah Picture Show – It’s a rocky start but can the Bar Mitzvah boy still make it through his Haftorah before they pelt him with candy?
The Wizard of Oy! – If I only had a brain, I could think up something far better than, “I don’t think we’re in Tel Aviv anymore, Toto.”
In the interest of time, I’ll just put my other ideas down quickly. “SheitelSpray” instead of Hairspray, “Oyklahoma” instead of Oklahoma, “Haimishton” instead of Hamilton, “Elijah” instead of Evita, and “Joseph Chutzpah, Superstar!” instead of . . . oh never mind.
But when I saw the suggestion for the “minor tweak” of my beloved Fiddler on the Roof, I shouted, “Forget it! The deal is off!” And I think you’ll see why . . .
Fiddler on the Spoof – Opening Scene – “Tradition!” Tevye is dressed in a red Santa suit high up on top of the roof (and not because the Fiddler is giving him a lesson up there) and about to slide down the chimney laden with gifts!
Uh, I don’t think so …. Don’t call us, we’ll call you ….That’s show biz, folks!