At this time of year, theatre goers are visited by three ghosts or a large, jolly man. In the midst of all the holiday productions, it is nice to get a little break from the usual seasonal shows. I seem to forget that there is another holiday besides Christmas.
Hannukatz the Musical is a fun romp that may seem it is for children, but the show can be enjoyed by both young and old. I originally saw it as a way that Jewish children could learn the story of Hanukkah. As a Gentile (and future shiksa) , I enjoyed the way that the National Pastime Theatre educated the audience about Hanukkah. The old Masonic Temple gave the production a little character with the set covered with dreidels. I like when a small theatre chooses to locate to an old building. Gives the theatre group an identity.
The story begins with the Moskowitz family getting ready to celebrate Hanukkah. Their two kids , played so charmingly by Maren Rosenburg and Isaac Samuelson, hate the holi-day because they never have the money to get really cool presents. The father Gil reminded me of a cross between Mort on “Family Guy” and Art Garfunkel ,and the mother had a dynamite belt voice. Rachel Pallante and Jordan Levin should be commended on their comic timing in this production. I also loved the idea that the characters utilized the fourth wall a lot. Shows are always more fun when there is audience participation. This show included a contest where the contestants had to make a gutteral “ch” sound. Kind of hard for an Irish girl.
The true star of the show is the music. The songs were fun and got the audience clapping and smiling. I loved some of the names of the original compositions like “Hanukkah Is Not the Jewish Christmas” and “No Jews Allowed” One of the songs even described famous Jews , including a former television actor here in Chicago. That made me laugh.
In the title role of the wise cat was Wellington DaSilva as Hannukatz. When he first took the stage, it reminded me of a member of the cast of CATS that had hit the catnip a little too much. His Jerry Garcia wardrobe might have been seen as overpowering , but was necessary to the plot of the show. He rocked the house and had everyone smiling by then end of the production.
“Hannukatz the Musical” will run right through Hanukkah until December 30th. The New National Pastime Theatre is located right down from the Lawrence Red Line stop at 941 W Lawrence. Tickets are 25 dollars for adults and kids 12 and under are only 10 dollars. There will also be a special performance on the 25th including a Chinese feast. Ask for details at 773-327-7077. The theatre is also planning a NYE event as well. You can also ask about group rates for the show as well. So take the family , and let a really cool feline teach you all about Hanukkah. Forget that old Holiday Armadillo!