Arts & Culture

3rd Annual Broadway Purim Shpiel

Jewcy was invited to attend the Third Annual Broadway Purim Shpiel, uh, spectacular extravaganza, this weekend and, in lieu of a competent individual, the magazine decided to send me. I was even given a camera in hopes that I might … Read More

By / March 7, 2007
Jewcy loves trees! Please don't print!

Jewcy was invited to attend the Third Annual Broadway Purim Shpiel, uh, spectacular extravaganza, this weekend and, in lieu of a competent individual, the magazine decided to send me. I was even given a camera in hopes that I might accidentally take a usable picture. Rest assured, I did nothing of the sort.

What I did do, however, was stand against a wall (many walls, in fact), help myself to the open bar, and enjoy the strangest variety show I've ever seen.

A Broadway Purim Shpiel apparently occurs when you take one part Jewish, one part gay, and one part showtunes — so, two parts gay, I suppose — and dump the whole potent concoction into Times Square on a Sunday night.

Seth Rudetsky emcee'd the event. In my fervor to do "good journalism" (and to best the disturbingly Zach Braff-esque photographer who was trolling the event a little too professionally for my tastes) I actually was able to snap a behind the scenes photo of the evening's main man before the show started.

He was standing up on the stage, slightly off behind a curtain, and I wagered that, if I was quick, I could get a few shots in before anyone noticed. Turns out, I was wrong. As I bounded up onto the stage, I spied a slightly perplexed, mostly angry looking woman wearing a headset. I thought it in my best interest to ignore her, so I approached Mr. Rudetsky and asked, "Do you mind if I take your picture?"

I heard the stage manager woman off to the side call out angrily, "Excuse me? Sir? Can I help you, sir?"

"No," Mr. Rudetsky replied to my original question. The woman called again, with increased urgency, and I took a photo. I turned to her as she bellowed a third time.

"Sorry, no, I'm fine," I said, "I was just taking a photo."

"Uh," she said, apparently confused that she wouldn't be able to help me, "Okay, sir, but you can't be up here."

"Right," I replied, "Of course. Well, I'm all done here. Thanks!"

The show began innocently enough, with a semi-comic video about a New York Jew returning home from a Taglit-birthright israel trip to the holy land. It took a turn for the worse when I realized the crowd was laughing a little too loud and clapping a little too much at the movie's grand finale (an open invitation for Taglit alumni to reacquaint themselves with the program via an NYC reunion group). "These people really love Birthright," I thought to myself. "Creepy."

But then, I haven't gone.

The dashing Scott Kluge kicked off the event, with a few other speakers, including an upsettingly bellicose older Israeli gentleman who claimed that, like in the past, Israel would "destroy" her enemies … I think he was talking about Iran.

I got nervous again, a bit later, however, when Seth Rudetsky finally took the mic. At first glance, he seemed to be toeing a "10" on the "Hal Sparks Scale of Obnoxiousness," but by the end of the second act, he had proven himself not only a worthy and amusing host, but a fantastic pianist as well. In fact, I found myself mentally transferring him off the "Hal Sparks" scale to the significantly less offensive "Mario Cantone Quotient."

The show was, at its essence, an absurd variety show that alternated between Mr. Rudetsky editorializing the story of Purim and noted Broadway performers belting out showtunes that could very (very) loosely be related to the holiday. Constantine Maroulis singing Jesus Christ Superstar's "Heaven on their Minds" with the word "Haman" in place of "Heaven"? You got it! How about a showstopper from Wicked? Why not!

While no song disappointed, there were a few performers that really stood out. Jersey Boys' Tituss Burgess, for example, gave a soaring rendition of the song "Home" that was so mind-blowing, when I sneezed later in the evening it sounded like the song's chorus and I won a Tony.

Following the show, the crowd mingled out in the lobby, where we were presented with hundred upon hundreds of cannolis, napoleons, hamantaschen, cakes, and 20-something Jewish girls with kinky perms all stuffing their faces and saying things like, "I shouldn't eat this."

Me? I was just mad that I'd eaten so much before the show.

I took a few photos, also, and put them in a photo gallery, as it were. You can view them here.

Tagged with: