With the revival of his musical about a Jewish cabaret comedian, writer-director Pavel Cerny feels he is giving the current generation of Los Angeles audiences a taste, in English, of the kind of Yiddish theater that flourished a century ago on Second Avenue in New York.
As a tribute to his grandparents, Tilson Thomas has created a staged performance, now called, "The Thomashefskys," which was a hit in San Francisco and at Carnegie Hall and will debut in Los Angeles Dec. 18 to 20 at Disney Hall
For independent filmmakers Dan Katzir and Ravit Markus, making "Yiddish Theater: A Love Story" was the easy part; booking the documentary into a commercial venue where people could see it was the real struggle. After two years of rebuffs, the director and producer of "Yiddish Theater" can now pop open the champagne. The feel-good, feel-sad film is opening this month in Tel Aviv, New York and Los Angeles, thanks to persistence and the Internet.
In the 1950s, a few years after Yiddish culture in Europe had been decimated, there was a bustling metropolis in the Western Hemisphere that still had a thriving Yiddish culture. This city had a number of schools in which classes were taught in Yiddish; there was an active theatrical scene, a couple of daily newspapers, books, literary magazines, songs and musicals -- all in Yiddish. There were Yiddish comedians, as well as cafes where Yiddish-speakers gathered to chat and drink tea with a bissel (little) lemon. And there were vacation resorts, a few hours' drive from the city, where Yiddish was regularly heard. New York? Montreal? Actually, Buenos Aires.
Friends and relatives of Dan Katzir were astonished when the Israeli filmmaker came up with a heart-grabbing documentary on New York's fading Yiddish theater.
Singer and performer Mike Burstyn -- known internationally for his roles on stage, in films and on television -- stars in the 40th-anniversary celebration of the groundbreaking works of Yiddish theater, "The Megillah of Itzak Manger" 's premiere in Israel.