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Yiddish nostalgia
Greer Fay Cashman
02/19/2007
Few things speak to the heart more than music. But until last year, the Yiddishpiel Theater Company never thought to mount a whole program of community singing.
Few things speak to the heart more than music. But until last year, the Yiddishpiel Theater Company never thought to mount a whole program of community singing. True, the audience occasionally joined in when a Yiddishpiel production included popular old Yiddish songs, but for the most part the audience sat as spectators rather than participants. All that changed when Yiddishpiel decided to experiment and ran two community singing evenings at the Azrieli Tower in Tel Aviv. The venture was so popular last year that Yiddishpiel founder and director Shmuel Atzmon could not believe the extent of the success. Busloads of patrons came in from out of town, lapping up the programs, joining in with gusto. They barely needed to read the lyrics that were flashed onto a giant screen above the stage. They already knew most of them by heart. The enthusiasm with which the Yiddish community singing had been received prompted an encore this year, with a change of venue. Working in conjunction with the Shalom Aleichem House in Tel Aviv, Yiddishpiel organized four sessions, the first of which was on February 8. It was a total sell-out. The remaining three are scheduled for March 22, April 26 and May 31. They too are almost sold out. It's possible that Atzmon may have to expand the season to satisfy the demand. Last year's community singing nights were a mix of every kind of Yiddish song. This year there are theme nights. This season opened with children's songs. The March theme is love songs, April's is wedding songs and Hassidic songs will reign in May. Each of these musical meetings is on a Thursday night at Beit Shalom Aleichem, 4 Berkowitz Street, Tel Aviv. As was the case last year, the first half of each program is devoted to community singing and the second half to concerts. Last year the featured performer was opera singer Sharon Azrieli, who had no trouble adapting her beautiful voice to Yiddish folk songs. This year, nearly all the regular Yiddishpiel players such as Sasi Keshet, Jacob Bodo, Anat Atzmon, Rinat Emanuel, Irma Stepanov, Helena Iarlova and others will be singing on stage during the second half of the evening. In all probability, the audience will sing along with them. For those interested in trying to get some of the few tickets that are left, or being put on a waiting list, the number to call is 1-800-444-660. Initially tickets for the whole series were being sold for NIS 160, which means that a ticket for any specific performance is NIS 40.
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