Shlemiel the First, conceived and adapted by Robert Brustein (2010 National Medal of Arts awardee, Founder and Artistic director, American Repertory Theater (ART)) from Nobel Prize Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer's folk-tale, premiered in 1994 at ART to rave reviews. The New York Times celebrated Shlemiel as ?A mix of comic misadventure, mysticism and sensuality? and John Lahr wrote "Shlemiel is busting its buttons with joy."
Shlemiel went on to delight audiences nationwide. Peak Performances at Montclair State University produced Shlemiel the First January, 2010 at the Alexander Kasser Theater in association with National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene. Previous productions have also appeared at Philadelphia's The American Music Theater Festival, San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater and Serious Fun! at Lincoln Center among other prestigious venues.
Theatre for a New Audience, National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene, New York University's Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts and Peak Performances at Montclair State University are proud to present the first New York revival of Shlemiel the First since only four performances at Serious Fun! nearly twenty years ago.
In Chelm, a village of fools, the naive beadle Shlemiel is sent on a pilgrimage to spread the wisdom of the local sages. His simple-minded folly turns an already absurd world hilariously, and redemptively, topsy-turvy. Half sad-sack clown, half accidental messiah, Shlemiel's charm is in his childlike innocence, and the charm of this musical is in its playfulness and unapologetic, unalloyed delight. With a cast of eight, a live Klezmer band and topsy-turvy set, it gently mocks the lavishness of other musicals.