Recap: AJT’s July pop-up, New York

Yiddish Theater’s Legacy in American Performance_hero

Adam Kantor, David Chack, Michelle Slonim, Tovah Feldshuh, Jackie Hoffman

July’s AJT Pop-up Event at the Museum of the City of New York

by Michelle Slonim

Listen to the entire panel talk!

(The Association for Jewish Theatre held its first Pop-up on July 18, in conjunction with the Museum of the City of New York’s public program on the legacy of the Yiddish Theatre. 200 people attended and many came from the AJT community. AJT’s Executive Director David Chack was the facilitator for the panel with Adam Kantor currently on Broadway in “Fiddler” as Motel, Michelle Slonim comedian, Tovah Feldshuh known for “Golda’s Balcony” and many stage and screen credits, and Jackie Hoffman comic actor. Here is a piece Michelle wrote about it and AJT.)

“I’m a Jew both on stage and off, in fact right now my mother is in the front row smiling and my dad is in the back sleeping.”

I am at a panel discussion (at the Museum of the City of New York) co-produced by the Association for Jewish Theatre; the subject matter is Yiddish and Jewish theater. I originally got involved with the AJT because of my interest in connecting my Jewish identity to my theatrical work. I had created a one-ish woman show called Michelle’s Jewish Date Party inspired by all the Jewish single parties I threw in the hopes of landing a Jewish husband… Unfortunately, as I got deeper into the stand-up comedy world I disconnected from my Jewish background.  I was delighted to be a part of the panel because it was a reminder of my Jewish roots. Also, you give me a mic and an audience and I’ll talk to you about anything, did I tell you about the first time I found the afikomen at my uncle Al’s — you got three hours? Here is the story!

The event was at the Museum of the City of New York, aka a fancy museum, so dress code was shul impressive, hey ya never know who is in the audience. The discussion was in connection to the exhibit New York’s Yiddish Theater, aka Michelle do some research and fast. Errr Molly Picon, Fanny Brice, the Adler Family, how is that for a start? Let’s just say I did my homework by watching a PBS documentary called Broadway Musicals: A Legacy of Jewish Theater (I highly recommend it). I wound up not talking about the history I learned, instead I spoke about my personal experiences working in Jewish Theatre.

The best part of the evening was being in the company of the other panelists. The panel included three Broadway stars Tovah Feldshuh, Jackie Hoffman, Adam Kantor, and me a stand-up comedian. I felt like a gefilte fish out of water. It was exciting to be with such esteemed panelists. One of them gave the most Jewish kvetch ever, “ugh, when I lost my third Tony…”, (like it’s a shunda to be nominated)! Needless to say it was exciting.

After the panel discussion I wanted to stay connected to my Jewish roots and a few days later attended my first Shabbat dinner in a long time. It happened to be at another museum, the Jewish Heritage Museum, how is that for full circle?

Now to shamelessly plug myself, I am Michelle Slonim ( I just linked my website so you will find me!) I am NY based comedian and am excited to perform at an ANYWHERE near you. Just ask and I’ll be there faster than you can say  ‘oy vey my children give me such tsuris’. Thank you for reading this zei gezunt.