Bar Mitzvahs, much like sweet 16's, have morphed into some pretty wacky events of late. And while there is yet to be a reality TV show about this rite of passage, there is a new musical written by Sue Fabisch with enough comedy and drama to satisfy even the greatest of urges for the entertainingly absurd. Enter David Michael Finkelstein's Bar Mitzvah. Pull up a chair -- you're invited.
Age inappropriate party theme? Check. Feuding relatives? Check. Cousin who is not quite out of the closet yet? Check. They're all there. Only in most instances, much funnier than our actual relatives. Or maybe not. I don't know your family.
This immersive musical by the talented Fabisch, who wrote the book, music and lyrics for this, as well as the internationally acclaimed Motherhood the Musical, provides the audience a ringside seat for an evening of unabashed hilarity. And to top it all off, there is free dessert served to complete the delicious experience.
For my money, David Michael Finkelstein's Bar Mitzvah is reminiscent of the long-running and very successful Tony n' Tina's Wedding. The key difference being, however, that this show is not ad-libbed, but completely scripted by Fabisch, who clearly possesses true comedic chops.
And if you are worried that you won't understand the Yiddish references sprinkling the show's dialogue throughout, the author has conveniently provided a glossary of terms in the program. Nice and funny touch.
The talented cast of local talent works as a true ensemble in a piece in which it would be very tempting for its members to try and outdo each other's over-the-top personas. That being said, the standout performance for me was Julie Waldman-Stiel who plays Aunt Ruth and whose singing is clearly Broadway caliber.
The show is directed and choreographed by Patrick Starega, with musical direction by Deborah Martin. Staged at The Warehouse by David Alan, in East Hanover, New Jersey, this show is currently a limited run, concluding on Saturday, March 15.
It is my hope that this show soon makes its way to off-Broadway, where I think it would enjoy some deserved success. But for now, it is well worth the trip across the bridge to Jersey for an evening of dysfunctional merriment.
For tickets to David Michael Finkelstein's Bar Mitzvah, click here.
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