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Deb Filler. Photo by Chris Banks.

I have seen and worked on plenty of solo shows in my more than twenty years in the business and sometimes I see one that just leaves me asking, "How did this performer get to do this show?" Unfortunately Deb Filler is in that situation right now at MetroStage with her concoction called I Did it My Way In Yiddish (In English).

I think there are a few "don'ts" when it comes to solo performances. I'll mention three. First, I don't think the performer should tell the audience that she usually plays her show to people in wheelchairs and their attendants. Whether intended to be humorous or not, I would think the performer would want to avoid this turnoff and potentially make the point that the material appeals to all ages and is universal. Secondly, I'd avoid telling potentially unbelievable stories. Here, I'd mention the performer's recollection of being hoisted onstage to cover for Lenny Kravitz at his concert after he split his pants, and then promptly singing "My Way." It's a credibility thing. Maybe it did happen, but it's rather implausible. Thirdly, I'd avoid constantly telling the audience, "Come on you know this one, sing along." It's professional theater not a gathering of Hadassah ladies.

Director John Shooter did what he could, but Filler lacks charisma to deliver. Unfortunately, when the performer is lacking in that department, the director's hands are tied.

The show isn't a total wash. One of Filler's stories that had any connection with me was the one about her father. He was a baker and a Holocaust survivor. He had a brush with Leonard Bernstein when the maestro came to do a concert at a displaced persons camp after being released from Auschwitz. The orchestra, comprised of members from the camp, played "Rhapsody in Blue". The bulk of this story is illustrated with a short film called Mr. Bernstein. It shows Filler at a young age in Auckland, New Zealand approaching Bernstein and reminding him about the concert and her father. It was moving.

I will also say that Filler plays guitar and sings well. Listening to Peter, Paul and Mary and the Beatles sung in Yiddish is something you don't hear every day.

At one point Filler talks about how her dad used to say, "If so and so performed in Yiddish, they would have a big career." Maybe if you couldn't understand this show you might enjoy it, but unfortunately I Did it My Way In Yiddish (In English) as performed by Deb Filler commits too many sins for me to be more forgiving.

Running Time: 85 minutes with no intermission.

I Did it My Way In Yiddish (In English)runs through April 29, 2018 at MetroStage, located at 1201 North Royal Street in Alexandria, VA.

For tickets, click here.

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