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Reviews

Borscht Belt Buffet on Broadway

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Reviewed by Carolyn Albert

Presented by NYK Productions, Inc. at Town Hall, 123 W. 43 St., NYC, Oct. 25-Nov. 6.

"I'm the only one here not on Social Security," my 31-year-old daughter noted.

Halfway into Bruce Adler's opening segment of the show, I realized I'd brought the wrong generation. The show is pure nostalgia: old songs and old jokes—and the audience loved every moment by Adler, singer David (Dudu) Fisher, and comedian Mal Z. Lawrence, the trio comprising the intermissionless buffet—as they reminisce about eating too much, the Olympic sport in the resorts that dotted the Catskill Mountains during the mid-20th century.

Adler is a variety of appetizers. Descended from Second Avenue's legendary Yiddish theatre royalty, he sings fluently in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish, dances, and performs classic vaudeville routines. He impersonates the unique styles of Cantor, Lahr, Durante, Skulnik, and Jolson, and even sings tongue-twisting lyrics and dances acrobatically like Danny Kaye. But ironically, his own individual style was to reflect others' glories.

As the main course, the impressive vocal agility Fisher demonstrated extended from pleasant baritone through rich tenor and higher into a sweet falsetto. Operatically trained, he's Holiday Cantor at Kutscher's Resort—but has triumphed in musical theatre as Jean Valjean in the Israeli production of "Les Miz," performing the role for six months on Broadway, as well as in London's West End—with Sabbath performances covered by his understudy.

Fisher's Yiddish "Figaro" from "The Barber of Seville" was followed by an exquisite Hebrew "Kol Nidre" from the Yom Kippur religious service, ending with an emotionally powerful "Bring Him Home." Introducing the song, he shared his personal connection with the song: his own two sons in the Israeli army.

For the dessert that leaves you wanting more, Lawrence's rapid-fire delivery doesn't let you recover from one joke before he tips you over with another. His knock-'em-down, keep-'em-rolling-on-the-ground style was the final knockout blow, provoking unstoppable laughter that leaves audiences holding their guts in happy pain as they stagger up the aisles, full, smiling, and remembering.

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