NYJMH Festival — Day 9

Aaaaar! Our Pirates Be The Bomb Burnin’ Up!
by Jeanette Friedman
Someone knew Pirates of Penzance, Di Yam Gazlonim, at the 92nd St. Y last night was a smokin’ hit and was pissed. S/he called in a bomb threat The building’s fire alarm was trigged during the show, so clanging bells and sirens annoyed the audience trying to listen to an amazing waif, Nell Snaidas, in the role of Malka. It turns out the noise was being made by first responders who evac’ed everyone, including the Inspector General, in the middle of the first act.
Truth was the audience, packed with hundreds of old fogies mostly, didn’t want to believe it was happening, and didn’t want to leave…neither did the younger crowd because they were getting hooked on what the pirates were doing on the stage. (Wasn’t Monday Talk Like a Pirate Day?)
Ay, Matey, ‘tis fair strange when you hear Gilbert and Sullivan filled with Vey iz mirs, and oy veys being sung by a group of troupers participating in the New York Jewish Music and Heritage Festival. It’s also lots of fun, especially when audience and cast members get to mingle on 92nd Street while bomb sniffers firefighters do their thing.
Fifteen minutes later, the show picked up where it left off, and an hour later, the audience went home with smiles on their faces. Mal Z. Lawrence, the Catskills comic, handled the brilliant English translation by Al Grand, so that those who don’t speak Mamma Loshen could at least get the gist of the brilliant and funny lyrics.
Yiddish is making a comeback because Yinglish has enriched American language. Younger folks want to learn the original ‘cause they’ve discovered there are some things you just can’t translate—words like macheteynista and mechutin, misshigas (which is featured prominently in this musical bon-bon) and some curses that just don’t make sense unless they’re delivered in Yiddish.
This little Gilbert and Sullivan ditty was given a Yiddish twist in plot as well as lyrics. The gazlonim [pirates] couldn’t marry the maydlach because there were no shadchanim, and besides, it didn’t passt, cause gazlonim are prust and not appropriate for the Inspector General’s ten daughters. The Inspector General’s greatest claim to fame was that he was an “erliche Yid,” who lied to the pirates and suffered severe guilt. Insomniac drama ensues.
In the end it turns out, the gazlonim were really misguided Yeshiva boys, so everyone gets to live happily ever after. Mazal Tov, Mazal Tov. It starred Robert Abelson, Henry Carrey, Mary Feinsinger, Jacob Feldman, Dan Rous, and Nell Snaidas; the executive producer was Moishe Rosenfeld and the piece was directed and conducted by Zalmen Mlotek, executive director of the Folksbiene.
[Update] Alix Friedman, director of Public Relations for the 92nd St. Y writes,

Contrary to the report on your web site, there was neither a bomb scare nor any bomb-sniffing dogs at the 92nd Street Y last night. A smoke alarm went off on the second floor and the entire building was temporarily evacuated. The whole thing turned out to be a false alarm and everyone was let back into the building within 15 minutes.

Oops. Sorry ’bout that. Had she been aware it was not actually a bomb scare, it wouldn’t have changed the fact that Ms. Friedman had a bad-ass time at the show. All apologies. It shall be a lesson to us wee amateur bloggers to check our facts before going live with such things. Though I can’t say I’m all that troubled by it, considering the freakin’ sweet amount of traffic this post has generated from Gawker. Hell, maybe we should unintentionally make shit up more often! But for real, sorry. We regret any drama this incident may have caused.
To be honest, the reason I found it believable was first-and-foremost the source (Ms. Friedman is a well-respected journalist and doesn’t usually goof as such) and secondly, when I was employed by the JCC in Manhattan, we got so many bomb threats at a certain point (it was at the height of the intifada) I think security services decided to stop responding to them and calling them in. But alas… Our bad, yo. We’ll do our damndest best to avoid such errors in the future.

6 thoughts on “NYJMH Festival — Day 9

  1. “…there are some things you just can’t translate—words like macheteynista and mechutin, misshigas (which is featured prominently in this musical bon-bon) and some curses that just don’t make sense unless they’re delivered in Yiddish.”
    Yes indeed. There is hardly anything more frustrating to read Isaac Bashevis Singer in English with all the life and lust translated out of it. “Oh woe is me…” — a shonda!

  2. As an avid Jewschool reader I can’t belive I didn’t notice right away – my godfather’s in that picture! Thanks for posting this review and photo!

  3. This sounds great – I am a Gilbert and Sullivan fan from way back and basically sing my way through several librettos during Passover cleaning. Circumcising the Pirates is inspired. Any chance of them coming to Israel?

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