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The Ganseh Megilla sets sail

March 25, 2011 – 1:18 pmOne Comment

By Malki Rose

Nautical jokes aside, this years Purim Shpiel, “Anchor’s Oy Vey” is one Jewish community ship that is certainly keeping its audience afloat .

Certainly a far funnier debacle than the real story of Purim, Eli Grynberg’s script, Talia Boltin’s lyrics and Hayley Lewkowicz’s orchestra and Musical direction have given us a wonderfully unifying musical sensation rarely seen in these waters and with a darn sight more queens, sailors and pop culture references than the original.

Directed by Danny Starr, this year’s ship-to-shore shpiel, flows with familiar and funny stereotypes and saturated with references to local community mishaps and personalities. “Anchors Oy Vey” offers us all a sorely needed chance to really sit back and laugh at ourselves, and of course at each other.

Achashverosh (Ronnie Feldman) is a powerful, wealthy Jewish lawyer sailing the high seas in style, aboard the luxurious cruise liner the ‘HMS Danby’, described as “slow moving, with a large build but still attractive to Jews”.

Like all good Jewish boys, sailing by his side is not only his (frighteningly convincing) Jewish Mother (Hadas Danziger), but also his hot new wife Esther (Alice Zaslavsky), the definitive Jewish princess. She professes her undying love for Achashverosh’s income and whispers  “I love when you talk Toorak to me”. She performs the glorious show-stopper “I want a place in Lumeah Road”! (to the tune of “I want to be in a America”).

To entertain the passengers is the sultry, red dress-wearing Vashti (Tanya Munz), most often hit on by the “alteh-kakehs” but applauded by the younger crowd who serenade her with “When my maidle shakes her tush I go meshugeh” (to the tune of  “when my baby smiles at me I go to Rio”).

And of course, commandeering the vessel, together with his krav-maga side-kick Tzippi (Anat Bogaty), is the unconventional Captain and unashamedly Israeli Mordechai (Josh Gurgiel). The abrasive talking, chutzpadik Zohan’esque, baba ghanoush-styled seaman proudly performs his theme song of “I’m Israeli” (to the tune of “in the Navy”) replete with ‘Village people’ performers and the traditional references to questionable sexuality.

The evil Pirate Haman (Daniel Aronov) has devious plans to plunder and pillage the cruise ship, kill Achashverosh and finally become senior partner at ABL (Arnold Bloch Leibler).

A superb ‘great barrier (fiddler on the) reef’ rendition of “Tachat Ha’yam” (to the tune of “Under the sea”), is sung and swam by the wonderful  ‘clown’ishe’ fish  ‘Feldman’ (Bram Presser) and his melodious choir of carrot-topped gefilte fishlets.

Before the final showdown, the pirates sing a delightfully perceptive number about the paranormal abyss of the Bermuda triangle into which Melbourne kosher eateries all mysteriously vanish. (Yes, they are listed!)

Tongue in cheek quips abound of community politics such as Kosher Australia’s politicking with Kosher VeYosher (sushi jokes are par for the course in this seafood related musical) and a Jewish insider “Assange” pops in as a running gag to leak ‘sensitive’ community information.

Of course the packed theatre of Gen X and Y audience members were most enthralled with the frequent references to Lady Gaga and The Office’ s  “That’s what SHE said!”

What a refreshing change it is to spend an evening amidst shared laughter at our own cultural foibles, cleverly scripted as musical (and entirely non-Midrashic) social commentary.

It is creative and collaborative efforts of this kind that bring smiles to our often kvetchy little shtetl, especially at Purim time when the value of Jewish unity and charity is to be most celebrated and shared.

As the ‘Danby’ set sail tonight, all preoccupations with North Caulfield Narishkeit were washed away, as peels of laughter rang out from the Phoenix Theatre and the true spirit of Yiddishe naches was shared by all.

“Anchors Oy Vey”  final show is Sunday @ 5pm at the Phoenix Theatre, Elwood

For tickets, click here.

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