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

Big Man on a Global Campus
The New York Times profiles NYU's new president, Andy Hamilton.
NYU Received a Record Number of Applications

Capital New York reported NYU received a record 60,322 applications for the class of 2019, an increase of about 15 percent since last year.

NYU Students Help City Crack Down on Hookah Bars

Capital New York reported that NYU students helped New York City crack down on hookah bars that illegally include tobacco in their hookahs:

Rudin Center Study Says Mass Transit Helps
Economic Mobility

The Wall Street Journal wrote about a report by Wagner’s Rudin Center that showed that mass transit could be more important than education in determining economic mobility.

Brennan Center Report Says Campaign Spending
Has Jumped

Frontline did a piece about a report by the Brennan Center for Justice that said that campaign spending by outside groups has more than doubled in the last five years.

NYU’s Dorms Ranked Among the Best in the Nation ranked NYU’s student residences third in the country in its list of best college dorms.

NYU Footer