MESHUGENEH: THE MUSICAL
Runs: June 25- July 30, 2016
THEATRE REVIEW #386 – Meshugeneh – The Musical
“Clever Songs With A Hyperactive Jewish Comic Stamp – “Meshugeneh – The Musical””
Reviewed By Lorenzo Marchessi
It’s 1972. New York. A very, very, very, very, very – did I mention very, Jewish family has a member of its clan who isn’t quite giving his future that much thought and his mother is doing her best – Oye – to get him on track! “Meshugeneh – The Musical” at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks is a fun little family romp of colorful personalities and political in-correctness in one Jewish family living in the 70’s.
Technically, the word comes from “meshuggeneh”, which means - adj senseless; crazy
Synonyms: meshuga, meshugga, meshugge, meshuggener - impractical, not practical; not workable or not given to practical matters – hence when a person is called this in the Jewish community, it’s sometimes a ‘term of endearment’ and sometimes – well – not.
Director Carol Jones took writer Heather Herington’s and co-writer composer-lyricist (and pianist) Avi Gross’s book, music and lyrics and took these characters on a nostalgic and hysterical ride of family, expectations, disappointments and a touch of deception and sprinkled it all with fun, humor and lots of Jewisms (Yiddish) that will have you laughing out loud.
Linda Nile plays Sadie the son of her ‘Meshugeneh’ (Frankie) and she gives the role the motherly wise edge with the sarcastic needle of reality to help her son on a path – of some sort. Linda’s quick wit and funny personality is only outmatched by her amazing vocal talents. She has quite the powerhouse of vocal chords in her very beautiful voice. She was fun, funny and right on the Jewish target!
Bill Chott plays Lou Fine and what a hoot he was as he has a very funny – no spoilers here – scene that involves some cuffs, a whip – wait – I’m spoiling it. Bill has a wonderful sense of timing and a sharp edge to his deliveries as he has to deal with his office assistant, Sadie, and his daughter’s (Elaine) ever changing needs. He’s got some great chemistry with all the ladies on stage.
Kim Shanon plays Elaine daughter of Lou and this is an attitude laden character who is filled with wants, needs, wants and more needs. Kim is incredibly funny as she clearly plays ‘The Jewish Princess’ to the hilt. Having fun with her father and Frankie, Kim does a surprising and very funny transformation by the end! You just gotta see it!
Regan Carrington plays Phyllis and talk about your sophisticated and smart lady – here she is; she sings, dances and has a magical charm about her that through it all is a very compassionate and likeable character underneath. Regan is fun and dynamic and plays the scene with Lou with a nasty - but a very funny edge.
Jylian Sy is the ‘Yentela’ of the musical – I would call her the narrator and the ‘Guardian Angel’ of Izzy. You’ll have to see it to understand that part. Jylian has a wonderful voice and sings lead and harmonies just like an angel. She is the touchstone for us, the audience and has a warm and fresh personality.
Scott Strauss plays Izzy the dead husband of Sadie who has secrets that he apparently took with him into the afterlife. Scott is another talented singer with a nice snappy and clever personality. He’s got this ethereal and loving chemistry with Linda that makes you both sympathize and understand where he came from when he was alive, but there is a dark side – opps – no spoilers again!
Joe Rosati is the ‘Meshugeneh’ or plays Frankie the son of Sadie and he tries and tries to be what he thinks others think he should be – but never quite fits the bill. Joe is quaint and very laid back in his performance and this gives a nice contrast to the loving mother, the no longer present father and the very needy girlfriend. As a result of all this – he may seem a little crazy – but his heart is in the right place.
Now I did say this was a musical – so with song titles like; “Woman Are To Blame” (my personal favorite), “Mr. Fine”, “Don’t Marry A Schiksah”, “No More Jewish Princess” (hysterical), “I Only Have Eye’s For Jews” and “What’s It Like (To Be A Jew)” – you know you’re in for some really funny tunes! (And there’s a lot more too!)
Produced by one of Whitefire Theatre’s own amazing talents, Jake O’Flaherty (who made a very funny cameo as well – look for the briefcase) – this show offers a variety of smart songs with stingy-funny lyrics and characters that are woven with heart, panache and lots of spice! With all the visuals, sound and technical direction by David Svengalis – this is a simple musical with lots of original spirit.
I personally am in no way familiar with all the wonderful nuances of the Jewish rituals or their cultural habits, but the hysterical looks, the comical innuendos and the feisty and smart attitude of all these characters made “Meshugeneh – The Musical” a wonderful and refreshingly new experience to see. Check them out at WhitefireTheatre dot com and tell them Lorenzo sent you from FaceBook dot com/TheGeekAuthority!