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National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, Gala 2016, Mandy Patinkin In Concert
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National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, Gala 2016, Mandy Patinkin In Concert

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Gala 2016
MANDY In Concert

Adam Ben-David, Piano and Music Direction
Hanna Khoury on Violin
The Red Hot Yiddishe Mamas
The 2016 Gala Children’s Choir

Frederick P. Rose Hall
Rose Theater
Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center

Honoring Zalmen and Debra Mlotek

Produced by Bryna Wasserman, Christopher Massimine,
Moishe Rosenfeld
Produced & Managed by Staci Levine
Lighting Design: Eric Cornwell
Sound Design: Daniel J. Gerhard
Exclusive Tour Direction: L. Glenn Poppleton
Marketing/Press: C Major Marketing, Inc., Catherine Major

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 23, 2016

It was an honor and pleasure to have been invited to attend tonight’s Gala at Rose Theater, a benefit for National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. I look forward to visiting National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene this summer and attending a performance of The Golden Bride, a musical revival with a score by composer, Joseph Rumshinsky, and a cast of twenty, accompanied by a 14-piece orchestra. This show has been nominated for two Drama Desk Awards. National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF) is presented at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, worth a day’s exploration in itself, as well. NYTF has produced plays, musicals, concerts, literary events, and workshops in several languages, such as Russian, English, and Yiddish. Translated supertitles are projected, as needed. It was evident throughout tonight’s lively Gala that the survival of the Yiddish language and Jewish cultural arts are preeminent goals of this extraordinary organization. Community programs in schools, cultural centers, museums, and city parks are flourishing, thanks to the generous support of NYTF by its Board, Donors, and charitable, funding organizations.

Tonight’s Honorees, Zalmen and Debra Mlotek, were warmly introduced by the NYTF Board Chair, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld. Zalmen, who has served as music director in regional theater festivals, has uniquely brought Yiddish-Klezmer music to Broadway and Off-Broadway. As Artistic Director of NYTF, Zalmen created the revival production of The Golden Bride. His previous productions include Those Were the Days and On Second Avenue. Debra, a pediatric occupational therapist, has been busy developing KlezKids, KinderNest, and Klezteens, all in conjunction with KlezKamp, a klezmer music - Yiddish culture festival.

The Star of tonight’s Gala was a very magnetic and virtuosic Mandy Patinkin, whose 1980 Broadway debut as Che in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita won him a Tony Award. Mandy also performed the lead role as George in Sondheim’s 1984 Sunday in the Park with George, with other Broadway and Off-Broadway credits including Falsettos, The Winter’s Tale, Hamlet, and Henry IV, Part I. Tonight, Mandy was astounding! He sang, he danced, he fund-raised, he kibitzed, he reminisced, he praised, he eulogized, and he engagingly endeared himself to the sold-out crowd. Mandy’s songs, attentively accompanied on piano by another charismatic presence, Adam Ben-David, who was also the evening’s music Director, were eclectic and energized. Mandy sang in both English and Yiddish, sometimes in surprise renditions, like “God Bless America” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, combined into Yiddish. He shared anecdotes about the late Joseph Papp, including his onstage eulogy at Papp’s memorial, and, after praising Sondheim and sharing related stories, Mandy sang an impassioned solo from his Broadway role as George. He even sang “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody”, vaudeville style on one knee, as well as a dramatic and vibrant, “Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long”. This seasoned performer is in fantastic shape, dashing about with boundless exuberance.

Additional entertainment included a few of Mandy’s Yiddish numbers, accompanied by Hanna Khoury on violin, playing his fanciful interludes with racing klezmer intonations. This was another highlight, among so many tonight, that brought cheering accolades from the audience. For example, midway through his performance, Mandy brought back Zalmen, on piano, who played and sang a favorite Yiddish tune, to the crowd’s delight. Another surprise brought out the Red Hot Yiddishe Mamas, over two dozen women who work together on behalf of NYTF, wearing bright red aprons, along with a multitude of children in the Children’s Choir, for a fantastic finale, with a Yiddish “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as a captivating closer. Kudos to Mandy Patinkin, kudos to all of tonight’s performers and Honorees, and kudos to National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene.

Mandy Patinkin
Courtesy of Brigitte LaCombe

Jeffrey Wiesenfeld with Honorees Debra and Zalmen Mlotek
Courtesy of Victor Nechay, properpix.xom

Honoree, Zalmen Mlotek at the Piano
Courtesy of Victor Nechay, properpix.xom

Mandy Patinkin, the Red Hot Yiddishe Mamas,
and the 2016 Gala Children's Choir.
Courtesy of Victor Nechay,

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at