Jackie Hoffman’s “A Chanukah Charol” or I’m the greatest kvetch!
By Sandi Durell
Patrick Stewart thought he had the holiday season covered with “A Christmas Carol.” Nah, it was only part of the story. It takes a self-loathing Jew to complete the episode; specifically Jackie Hoffman. Who else could take a good hard look at herself, display her flaws and unashamedly trash herself in front of an audience – – she’s one-of-a-kind. Charles Dickens would turn over if he got a glimpse of this 50 laugh-a-minute show, as Hoffman brings her own brand of Ghosts of Chanukah Past, Present and Future into focus.
Hoffman plays the angry wannabe star who still hasn’t received the recognition she craves, finds herself performing on Chanukah at a Queens Jewish Centre, screaming at her audience and bemoaning that there’ll be “no more Syna-Gigs. . . ah – Chhhanbug.” When she talks about her career she explains that when she auditioned for the Yiddish Theatre, she was told she was too Jewish. Back in her dressing room, after downing some pills followed by a Manischewitz wine chaser, she falls asleep to be visited by the Ghost of Chanukah past – why it’s Molly Picon who’s come alive on the bottle to take her back to childhood, to gym class, her first boyfriend Chaim Shapiro, who died, followed by Mordecai who wanted to marry her, and to her home in Great Neck and Chanukah dinners with Mom who served 20 different main courses and spoke the Jewish mantra “eat, eat.”
Poor “Plain Jane” has been in 3 Broadway shows, and has only accumulated 2 minutes of stage time! And it goes on like that, as Shelly Winters visits as the Ghost of Chanukah Present and there’s lots of apple strudel and Coke Zero vs. Diet Coke jokes, while Mom explains what gay guys do to each other. I’ll leave the Ghost of Chanukah’s Future out so you can be even more surprised and laugh at it all in person. The important questions here, however, are “Will there be any social security left? Will Mamma Mia ever close? Will it be Ugly Betty meets Ugly Jew?”
The show is cleverly written by Ms. Hoffman and collaborator Michel Schiralli who also directs. It has all the tam (that’s a Yiddish word for completeness/perfect) that you’d e xpect – – heart, sadness, soul and silliness. Just go before it’s over!
Through January 8th at New World Stages, West 50th Street, NYC