"That's right, Shlemiel. The first."
"But I thought I was the first."
"You were. But that was just the title, 'Shlemiel the First,' which the Prince Music Theater staged with you as its backward boychick 13 years ago. Now the Prince is putting on the world premiere of a different klezmer musical called 'A Night in the Old Marketplace.' "
"Is it on Market Street?"
"No, Shlemiel, the Prince is on Chestnut Street."
"Why, that doesn't make any sense."
"And neither do you, Shlemiel."
"Gee ... thank you!"
And one only wonders what would have happened had Abbott and Costello been Jewish.
But the Prince -- which indeed did play host to "Shlemiel the First" -- the first of many productions it got around the country 13 years ago (Happy Bar Mitzvah, you old fool!) -- has often held court with shows focused on Jewish themes.
Who, after all, can forget the Cy Coleman musical, just a smidgen of years back, about Yiddish theater and its princely poo-bahs not seeing oy-to-oy? (On second thought ... That one? Better to forget!)
And, now, the Prince is offerings its rich and regal resources for a fresh freilach:
Hear the wailing clarinets? They're a geshrei of joy, not grief, rejoicing in a rash of rachmones as the Prince has kicked off its 24th season with a klezmer konnection: The world premiere musical staging of I.L. Peretz's "A Night in the Old Marketplace."
Peretz the thought: Where better to bring an "old marketplace" than to a theater just a hamantashen toss from Market Street, as Shlemiel said in the first place? The show runs through Oct. 21.
So grab the shopping bags and fill up with the sounds of "a magical tale of men who wrestle with ghosts in order to right a past wrong, in a fantastic journey to rediscover the meaning of faith."
Have faith, they will rediscover it.
Heading the cast is Ray Wills, portraying the Badkhn, listed as "the charismatic entertainer who has become a bitter and cynical man with an insane plan to remake the world."
Join the crowd, Badkhn.
Also: Guil Fisher is the Recluse, and so he shouldn't feel all alone, suffice it to say he has many local admirers, who twice voted him Barrymore Awards.
And how much more cosmopolitan can it be than to have London show up on your local doorstep? Scores of scones at the Prince? No: This London is klezmer king/composer Frank London, whose "Green Violin" played beautifully at the Prince four years ago, and who must have pulled some strings to make a great score for this new show, too.
Tickets, you want tickets? Okay, here's the number: Call 215-569-9700 or go to: www. princemusictheater.org.
Except for you, Shlemiel. You, you're getting in free. They're holding special seats for you for the Oct. 22 performance.
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If Broadway's looking for a monster season, it has no further to go than the Hilton Theater, where "Young Frankenstein," billed as "the new Mel Brooks musical," has some guy with nuts and bolts in his head laughing and laughing.
And that guy just may be the theater-goer. And that just may not be laughter; it may be hysterics. As for those nuts ... you may have to be crazy to pay up to $450 for a front-row seat to get a Borscht Belt beating of broad jokes and humor.
Certainly, Brooks brought it on with "The Producers"; now everyone wants to be one.
Here, with a target audience of fans of the 1973 film; Brooks minions who adore his mishugas; and those who just think of the word "Ritz" and go crackers, Brooks and company are asking -- and getting -- up to $450 an orchestra seat.
Okay, so they've described those seats as the best of the best, but in a broad way, isn't this tactic killing off the future musical theater audience?
All eyes -- and limbs, too -- are keen on seeing how far the far-out Brooks can have audiences brook such far-fetched prices for his "Young Frankenstein"? (Rumor has it, that had it been "Alta-Kacker Frankenstein," Medicare would have kicked in ... maybe.)
Critical reception to the show while playing in Seattle has been somewhat mixed, although reports are in that the "Puttin' on the Ritz" production number puts everyone in a good mood.
Trick or treat? Whichever, you'll need a treasure chest to buy the best seat in the house.
But then, maybe it's a no-brainer: Who else but "Young Frankenstein" would ask for an arm and a leg for a ticket?