Mazel and Shlimazel, the classic children’s folk tale by Isaac Bashevis Singer, is getting the stage treatment at the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival, as part of the FringeKids schedule.
It’s also getting klezmerized.
Toronto drummer and composer Lorie Wolf has adapted Singer’s story into a one-man children’s theatre show, accompanied by a live four-piece klezmer ensemble, which she will lead.
Her play is titled The Adventures of Mazel and Schlimazel.
The story follows a year in the life of Tam, a peasant boy, who unknowingly becomes the centrepiece in a wager between Mazel, the spirit of good luck, and his nemesis, Shlimazel, the bad-luck spirit.
Tam will receive a year of good fortune from the benevolent Mazel, and at year’s end, Shlimazel will get a moment to undo all the luck conferred upon the spirits’ pawn.
Who wins? Let your children find out at this 50-minute play.
Wolf, who last year recorded an album of klezmer music based on the book’s themes, said she decided to write the play as a “Yiddish-themed experience” for children.
“It’s set in a shtetl, a Yiddish setting, and there are lots of Yiddish words… I hope this will become an introduction to Yiddish culture for both parents and children,” she said.
Additionally, Wolf said she takes any chance she gets to expose more people to klezmer music.
She said it’s the musical component to the stage adaptation that should really make the show special.
“I hope to capture the sense of the story within the music, and there’s a very good relationship between the music and the script,” Wolf said.
Being that it’s a one-man show, the burden of bringing all the characters – there are six in total – to life falls to veteran Fringe actor Geoff Kolomayz.
Kolomayz, who’s not Jewish, said the story brings together the universal theme of good versus evil.
He’s also enjoying learning all the Yiddish terminology in the story, he said.
Kolomayz said he welcomes the opportunity to perform in front of kids and believes they’ll come away with some life lessons.
“I enjoy children’s theatre. They’re always a truthful audience,” he said, adding that there will be some “good humour” in the show as well.
Wolf and Kolomayz said the show will also involve some audience participation in the form of various “call-and-answer” segments with the crowd. The play is geared for ages five and up, according to Wolf.
“Different age groups will take away different things from the play,” she said.
The Adventures of Mazel and Schlimazel opens at the Fringe Festival on July 8 at the Palmerston Library Theatre, 560 Palmerston Ave., and runs to July 17. It’s being co-presented by the Ashkenaz Foundation. For more information and showtimes, visit www.fringetoronto.com or call 416-966-1062.