BWW Reviews: WHEN YOU'RE IN LOVE, THE WHOLE WORLD IS JEWISH Will Have You Plotzing With Laughter
"When You're In Love, The Whole World Is Jewish" is more than an expression - it is the name of a World Premiere comedy/musical revue, directed by Seinfeld's Jason Alexander, at the Greenway Court Theatre (located at 544 N. Fairfax Avenue, next to Fairfax High School) through March 31 on Thursday through Saturday 8:00PM and 7:00PM on Sundays. Note, there is no show on Sunday, February 24th.
The cast features the talented Barry Gordon, Michael Pasternak, Ellen Ratner, Robert Shampain, Rena Strober and Jay Brian Winnick. With Musical Director Deborah Hurwitz's lively vocals and the four-piece band adding in the heart of soul of Klezmer music, I am sure I was not the only audience member ready to get up and dance along with the cast!
In 1965, there was an innovative album that was capturing the public's imagination, and it was called "You Don't Have To Be Jewish" (Kapp Records), featuring the talented voices of Lou Jacobi, Betty Walker, Jack Gilford, and Frank Gallop. This collection of classic Jewish humor was written and produced by Bob Booker & George Foster, and within weeks of its release it was a Top 10 hit. It also received a Grammy nomination as "Comedy Album of the Year." With the world growing increasingly crude, rude, and mean-spirited, "When You're In Love" brings the best of this timeless material to life. The producers felt "It would be refreshing to have a show that shies away from those well-known four-letter words and colorful phrases, yet still manages to elicit belly laughs." Boy did they succeed!
The premise of the show is that a nice Jewish boy has fallen in love with a Catholic girl and wants his Rabbi to teach her to be a Jew. The rabbi sums the problem up with "This is why Oy rhymes with Goy!" And the one-liners continue from there.
I especially enjoyed the song "Things Might Have Been Different" relaying stories of how the world could have been if historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln had been Jewish. I was laughing so much I could not write down all the people mentioned as each one was funnier than the last. And the song about al types of Jewish food had a sing-a-long which the audience thoroughly enjoyed - as we would have the food - ending it with the Jewish anthem, "Hey we won! Let's eat!"
And then there was the Dad reading a story by Hans Jewish Andersen in the skit "The Jewish American Princess" in which Little Red Riding Hood's cape is made of cashmere, or Jewish cotton as the Dad explains. And Murray the Wolf runs a non-union clothing shop, making the moral of the story "Never trust a wolf in cheap clothing."
During each performance, a guest artist is invited up from the audience to play a lawyer reading a will to the deceased's family members. I was fortunate to see Ed Asner in the role the night I attended, and his surprise appearance and brilliant comedic timing kept the cast members on their toes and the audience roaring with laughter.
David Pascal's multimedia set includes a large torah that opens to reveal a screen on which scene titles and pictures are projected. It brought the world into the mix with scenes in an airplane, restaurants, bars, under the sea, Las Vegas, the Wild West, a courtroom, cemetery, shoe repair shop, small New York apartments in which guilt-ridden calls with Mom from Long Island take place, a Bar Mitzvah African safari, to a bench on which retirees share about their lives. "What he has, Viagra can't find" was a favorite line I was able to write down amid all the laughter.
Kudos to producers Danny Gold and Billy Riback for bringing "When You're In Love" to the stage as a true labor of love - the love of comedy and of cherished childhood memories.
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