Jerome Robbins first discovered the shtetl when he was six years old. He was born on the Lower East Side, home of immigrants from Eastern Europe. His father took him to Poland to see where his Rabinowitz family came from.
The National Yiddish Theater/Folksbiene has come a long way in its 96th season. In fact, the highlight of its annual cabaret dinner on Dec. 8 at the Bohemian National Hall on the Upper East Side, were two African American actors who brought the house down with their versions of classical Yiddish medleys.
Elmore James, a veteran of five Broadway shows and the Metropolitan Opera, dazzled with “Es Brent” and “Ot Azoy.” Tony Perry, featured in the film “Mickey,” thrilled the audience with his rendition of “Vos Iz Gevorn.”
His work spans the history of entertainment in modern America. Fyvush Finkel, one of the last performers from the heyday of the Yiddish theater, opens this weekend at the Folksbiene in “Fyvush Finkel Live!,” a nostalgic recap of his illustrious career on both stage and screen. Finkel, who turned 88 last weekend, will be joined by his two sons, pianist Elliot and xylophonist virtuoso Ian, along with veteran performers Merwyn Goldsmith and June Gable, in a revue that showcases the talents of one of the country’s most versatile and durable Jewish performers.