New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Skirball Center Presents First Major New York Revival of "Shlemiel the First," Dec. 13-31

November 29, 2011

Shlemiel the First, a joyous klezmer musical based on the tale by Isaac Bashevis Singer, received rave reviews after premiering at the American Repertory Theatre and Lincoln Center in 1994, and went on to delight audiences nationwide. The New York Times called it “a small musical that has amassed a large measure of adoration.”  Now, just in time to add some hilarity to the holidays, NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts is proud to partner with Theatre for a New Audience, National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene, and Peak Performances at Montclair State University to present the first major New York revival of Shlemiel the First.

In the imaginary town of Chelm, a village of fools, the naive beadle Shlemiel is sent on a pilgrimage to spread the wisdom of the local sages. Half sad-sack clown, half accidental messiah, Shlemiel’s appeal is in his childlike innocence. This charming musical is playful, unapologetic, and sure to delight. With a cast of eight, a live klezmer band and a topsy-turvy set, it gently mocks the lavishness of other musicals.

Strictly limited engagement begins December 13.

A series of educational events will enhance the run of Shlemiel the First:

November 30 – Klezmer Music Symposium with Zalmen Mlotek, Artistic Director of the National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene, and Hankus Netsky, a composer whose work can be heard in the score of Shlemiel the First.  This event will take place at The NYU Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life (7 East 10th Street, 5th floor) and will begin at 8:45pm.  Musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments.

December 18 – A post-performance discussion with director/choreographer David Gordon and musical director, Zalmen Mlotek, moderated by Theatre for a New Audience’s founding artistic director, Jeffrey Horowitz.

December 22 – A post-performance discussion with an inter-generational panel of NYU alumni who have worked, or are currently working in Yiddish Theatre, on Yiddish theatrical traditions and its cross-generational appeal.

December 27 – A post-performance talkback with theatre critic, producer, playwright and educator, Robert Brustein who conceived and adapted Shlemiel the First from its source material.  Jeffrey Horowitz will moderate.

Performance schedule:

DECEMBER 13-17, 20-24, 26-31 | 7:00PM

DECEMBER 14, 17, 21, 23, 24, 28, 31 | 2:00PM

DECEMBER 18 | 3:00PM

Regular price tickets are $75.

Discounts for the NYU community available through NYUHome or in person at Ticket Central:

NYU Faculty, Staff, and Alumni $47

NYU Students $10

Visit for more information.


Based on the Play by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Conceived and Adapted by Robert Brustein
Lyrics by Arnold Weinstein
Composed, Adapted and Orchestrated by Hankus Netsky
Musical Arrangements and Additional Music by Zalmen Mlotek
Editorial Supervision by David Gordon
Music Direction by Zalmen Mlotek
Directed and Choreographed by David Gordon



This Article is in the following Topics:
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, NYUToday-feature

Type: Article

"Shlemiel the First"

Search News

NYU In the News

CUSP Unveils its “Urban Observatory”

Crain’s New York Business profiled CUSP’s “Urban Observatory” that is continuously photographing lower Manhattan to gather scientific data.

Post-Sandy Upgrades at the Langone Medical Center

NY1 reported on the major post-Sandy upgrades and renovations made at the Medical Center to protect the hospital from future catastrophic storms.

Steinhardt Research Helps Solve Tough Speech Problems.

The Wall Street Journal reported on research at Steinhardt’s Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, including an interview with Assistant Professor Tara McAllister Byun, that uses ultrasound to help solve tough speech problems.

Times Column Lauds Professor Stevenson’s New Memoir

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a column about “Just Mercy,” a new memoir by Law Professor Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, whom he noted has been called America’s Nelson Mandela.

Entrepreneurship Lab Opens at NYU

Crain’s New York Business covered the opening of the Mark and Debra Leslie Entrepreneurial eLab, which will be the headquarters for NYU’s Entrepreneurial Institute and all of the University’s programs aimed at promoting innovation and startups.

NYU Footer