Dreaming of a Yiddish Christmas, with Sugarplums and a Klezmer Soundtrack

Now, when Giorgio Strehler’s legendary production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest began with a storm of painted cardboard waves, the great director was hailed as a theatrical genius (which he surely was). Strehler understood theater’s essential playful innocence, and so does the gifted Ms. Key.

Beside, all is well with the world when a devil in a show can ask an audience this riddle, among many others: “What is black and white and red all over?”

I couldn’t think of the answer, actually. But within a second, one small child in the audience at The Klezmer Nutcracker was up on his feet excitedly yelling it out:

What’s black and white and red all over?

“A NEWSPAPER!”

Others were soon yelling it at the chastened devil onstage, too. “A NEWSPAPER! IT’S A NEWSPAPER!”

And all we seem to be hearing lately is how nobody reads any more. Not these kids!

The moral is, catch ’em young, catch ’em smart. And that goes for the future of theater, too.

jheilpern@observer.com

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