Today’s Guest: Joseph Dorman, documentary director, Sholem Aleicheim: Laughing in the Darkness
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience of 16-year-old boys in heavy fake beards all speaking in high school Yiddish accents… in the new new media capitol of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
I owe my first kiss to Sholem Aleichem.
And my second, too.
The first was Loye Neville; the second, not long after, was Diane Dunn.
Both occurred backstage during dress rehearsals for the North Brunswick Township High School production of Fiddler On The Roof. Surely, you’ve heard of it?
JOSEPH DORMAN podcast excerpt: “Sholem Aleichem was a terrible, terrible businessman. He was very different from the men and women he was documenting or writing about. He was an assimilated Russian Jew. He lived in a large city, Kiev, for much of his life. And he had the luck of inheriting money from his father-in-law, who was a wealthy man. A lot of the reason he was playing the stock exchange was to support his Yiddish writing habit.”
Seth Kaufman, 15, played Tevye, a revelatory performance that no one who saw it ever forgot. Phyllis Lyons played one of Tevye’s daughters – maybe you’ve seen her since then in The Bridges of Madison County or, more recently, in episodes of “House” or “Rizzoli & Isles”? (She married actor Adam Arkin, incidentally.)
But I digress.
I didn’t know Loye or Diane before that. I was in 8th grade; they were
in 9th. But I was never the same after that. These two pretty girls talked to me, laughed at my jokes and their friendship gave me a self-confidence I never knew before. We never dated, but I walked one or the other of them home from school dozens or times.
And it’s all because I worked on the backstage crew of a high school production of Fiddler. So for that reason alone, I feel an honest debt to the storytelling talents of legendary Jewish writer Sholem Aleichem.
And that’s the main reason I am pleased to help spread the word of a new documentary film, Sholem Aleicheim: Laughing in the Darkness, by writer, director and producer Joseph Dorman.
The movie – which will be shown at the Toronto, San Francisco and Jerusalem Jewish Film Festivals this summer and opens July 8 at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in Manhattan — is narrated by actor Alan Rosenberg and features the voices of Peter Reigert and Rachel Dratch, among others.
Well, as King David said, “I am slow of speech, and slow of tongue.”
Part 2 of 4
Part 3 of 4
Part 4 of 4
You might also enjoy the Mr. Media video interview with legendary actor Theodore Bikel, perhaps best known for playing Tevye on Broadway!