Fine & Schapiro: After Lollapuzzoola, I took the bus down to 72nd and Broadway to get a fix of Jewish deli food at Fine & Schapiro. There aren’t a lot of deli options on the West Side and I’d heard good enough things about this one that I thought it was worth trying. I considered it a good omen that the "Papirossen" was playing when I walked in. This is one of my favorite Yiddish songs, largely because I used to play it on the piano when my grandfather sang.
Anyway, I ordered matzoh ball soup and a half a tongue sandwich. Plus diet cream soda, of course. They bring out cole slaw and pickles (and rye bread) right away. The cole slaw was quite good – nice and vineagary, as I like it. The soup was a bit bland and I needed to add a little salt and a lot of pepper to it. In addition to the matzoh ball, it had plenty of noodles, but no chunks of chicken and no carrots or celery. It was okay, but I’ve had better. The sandwich (to which I added mustard) was very good. I also ate one full sour pickle, which was good but not any better than anywhere else. Overall, I would definitely eat there again, assuming I didn’t have time to go crosstown to the 2nd Avenue Deli, which is my favorite.
A Fidler Afn Dakh: As soon as I saw the date for Lollapuzzoola, I looked for theatre tickets and, this time, I had no doubt about what I was going to see. I’d wanted to see Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish (or A Fidler Afn Dakh to give it its Yiddish name) since I’d heard about it. What with Joel Grey (who is, of course, Yiddish theatre royalty, being the son of Mickey Katz, one of the greatest Yiddish performers of all time, as well as Broadway royalty) directing it, how could I go wrong?
I’ll note that Fiddler (in English) was the very first show I ever saw on Broadway. My parents took us when I was in sixth grade, after they’d already seen it and loved it. And, of course, several of the songs have become part of the standard Jewish repertoire. There’s a certain irony in my cousin once removed, David, having sung "Sunrise, Sunset" at my Grandpa’s wedding to his second wife. No, that wasn’t his little boy at play.
Also, before anyone asks, I understand more Yiddish than I speak, but it doesn’t really matter. There are supertitles in English and Russian for those who don’t have the entire script memorized.
Anyway, this was an amazing production. Steven Skybell played Tevye very naturally, capturing his conflicts between the way he’d like the world to be and how it is changing around him. I far preferred his interpretation to the overwrought mugging that people do when trying to imitate Zero Mostel. The other standout performance is by Jackie Hoffman, as Yente. I had a few qualms about the choreography, mostly related to Der Fidler being overdone. But, really, this production is about the emotions of the show, of the warmth of the community and the tragedy of changing times. I sobbed through the last 45 minutes of so, starting with Tevye turning his back on Khave. In fact, I am tearing up just thinking about it.
If you have the chance to go, definitely do. There's a reason this show was extended four times.
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