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Wintertime for 'Springtime' in Israel

February 9, 2006 By:
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Just what would Wagner say?

Doesn't matter; Israelis are saying ken to "Springtime for Hitler," the masterpiece of mishugas and the centerpiece of "The Producers," which just opened to SRO - Smoking Room Only - in a Tel Aviv theater.

According to a news-wire report, Israeli audiences - who wag their finger, the third one - at anyone even suggesting a performance of Wagner in Holocaust-sensitive Israel, are going gaga over the camp humor of the Mel Brooks musical, about a Jewish accountant and producer who conspire to stage the worst Broadway show in history with Hitler as the headliner.

But using the Holocaust for humor in a nation where it's no laughing matter?

The musical - which opened on Broadway five years ago - seems to have traveled well, all 6,000 miles, to the Cameri Theatre, where Dan Almagor's Hebrew translation speaks the same language of sex, greed, sex, deceit, sex and … sex, no matter if it's with a Jewish accent or not.

But would there be hell to pay over making the Shoah a showpiece of hilarity? According to Almagor: "We were sure there would be protests, people saying, 'How can you show such a thing in Tel Aviv?' "

It's telling that there were no broadsides against the Broadway show; guess the razzes are drowned out by the huzzahs, as Bialystock and Bloom (Shlomo Bar Abba and Dror Keren, Israel's version of Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick), show they don't wanna be mensches, just producers.

As for the sound and the Fuhrer … where else could you have an actor named Itzik Cohen imitating Hitler?

Some script alterations were inevitable, of course. According to the report, each onstage mention of Hitler's name is followed by an actor's declaration of Yimach shemo vezichro (may his name and memory be destroyed), with double-spit takes between two fingers firming up the fury of the curse.

A Jewish accountant, a Jewish producer … what else does Brooks have in his carry-on bag of iconoclasm that would translate well in the Jewish state?

How about a musical about a Jewish doctor?

Well, there is "Young Frankenstein" …

 

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