Lose the blintz, keep the prince

The Cinderella story has been around for hundreds of years, going as far back as Egypt in the sixth century under the title The Girl with the Rose Red Slippers. This Hanukka the Tel Aviv Community Theater, with yours truly, produced its own interpretation of the saga, based on traditional English music hall pantomime. In our outrageous and absolutely hilarious adaptation, the main female parts were played by men and the main male parts were played by women. Almost everyone was cross-dressed in the most preposterous and colorful costumes imaginable. There were singing, dancing, buffoonery, pratfalls and topical jokes, and throughout each performance the audience was encouraged to hiss, boo, applaud, stamp, whistle and scream support for their favorite characters. Every show was a combination of Monty Python, the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Grease. With my rather insignificant role of Major Domo, I had 57 seconds of lines in a two-hour and 15-minute production. Of our five sold-out performances, I think I messed up my lines two of the times. I'm trying to figure out why I messed up, but that's another story. My longest line involved introducing Harry Potter at the ball and it went something like this: "Ladies and gentlemen, our good friend Harry Potter, now on a half-term Hanukka holiday from Hogwarts, has agreed to present us with a magical musical moment." Try saying that sentence fast three times in a row. It's a tongue twister, plus what American knows what a half-term is? It's "semester break" and always will be. I also danced and sang in the chorus, carried out the shopping boxes of the evil stepsisters and held up the rabbits and foxes in Prince Charming's hunting scene. But it was in the second act, the ball scene, when the audience finally felt my theatrical presence. Maddeline Mordecai, our talented director and producer, added the Borscht Belt characters of King Kugel and Queen Kvetch to the ball scene. They had a very funny Yiddish and English, Jackie Masonish conversation as they watched their son, Prince Charming, dance with Cinderella. "Do you think she is a Jewish Princess?" At the ball, my character was called upon to introduce everyone, including His Royal Highness, Prince Charming, to the festivities. For two weeks during rehearsals, the actress playing Prince Charming was away visiting her family in England. It was at this time that I came up with the idea of mistakenly introducing her character as such: "... and now his Royal Highness Blintz, oops, I mean Prince Charming." I said to myself, why not? The guy has a mother called Kvetch and a father called Kugel. Just think of it: For the first time in the 700-year history of the Cinderella saga, Prince Charming would have a first name. Blintz, Blintz Charming or Prince Blintz Charming. The deliberate mistake got a monstrous laugh from the cast and production crew, and Maddy said, "Keep the Blintz!" But alas, it was not to be. When the ever-so-lovely actress returned and heard her new introduction, she glared at me and said, "If you keep the Blintz, you lose the Prince." Scary words for a guy with only 57 seconds of lines in a two-hour and 15-minute production. After a three-second directorial meeting it was "Hold the Blintz, keep the Prince." I sulked for about two minutes, but carried on. I wanted to slip the line in as a surprise for our last performance, but I didn't. I had a feeling this actress would have whacked me with her wig! The last performance of the show was my best; my dancing and singing was as good as it gets. During the intermission, I stayed in character and ad-libbed with the audience. They loved it, me too. As Terry Teachout, the Wall Street Journal theater critic, recently wrote: "I hope I never forget that to be a passionate amateur is one of the wisest and best things that a human being can be, even if it leads him to make a fool of himself on stage. We should all be such fools for love." I should have introduced my lovely colleague as Blintz Charming. It would have gotten the laugh I craved. I can take getting whacked by a wig any day. The writer has an MFA from UCLA in theater arts and was a producer and writer for the Israel Broadcasting Authority.