An overcast sky hid the stars last Thursday evening — but it didn’t matter, because the real stars were filling our world at the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel in East Elmhurst.
They were being recognized as our “Stars Under 40” at our annual Queens and Long Island event. The honorees joyously made their way down the red carpet, dancing, strutting and flashing million dollar smiles.
I know it’s a night of networking and making new friends and business contacts, but what warms my heart is to see the pure happiness of the “stars” and their families, colleagues and those who came to celebrate with them.
To my delight, one of the honorees was Lisa Aamodt, the school principal from Congregation Tifereth Israel in Glen Cove, where my grandchildren Addy and Jonah attend classes. They adore her because of her positive, welcoming energy.
When I told Addy that we honored her principal, she said, “Lisa knows me so well that she recognizes us (Jonah and Addy) from the back of our heads.” A true test of her special way with children.
I was also happy to also honor City Councilman Donovan Richards, a rising star among Queens County Democrats. Richards has “brought home the bacon” for his district and has served in Queens politics since he was a 19-year-old volunteer for then-City Councilman (and current state Senator) James Sanders Jr.
Richards has a bright future ahead of him, but he’s a “Shining Star” already for Queens!
Who would think?
When I heard that the remarkable, heart-rendering “Fiddler On The Roof” was playing at the 500-seat Stage 42 theatre, I put it on my must-see list. The fact that it was being presented in Yiddish by the national YIddish Theatre didn’t defer my enthusiasm.
My instincts were right because I adored every minute of the 3 ½-hour production.
After all, the choreography was done by the original genius Jerome Robbins, with additional dances by Stas Kmiec and all under the direction of the brilliantly-talented Joel Grey.
On the stage, on either side, were screens that clearly had the English translation of all songs and dialogue throughout the show. It was very easy for me to follow the storyline, since I know the music and the emotions that are sensitively portrayed. I was totally engaged even though the actors spoke completely in Yiddish.
It is the story of a Russian family living in a little town in Russia around 1918, and how the father “Tevye” was holding on with all his might to the traditions of his Jewish heritage. But times were changing, and his daughters challenged him in their choice of husbands.
We are carried back in time as the cossacks force all the Jewish families to leave their beloved home. The story rings true to this day!
All of the beloved songs from Fiddler, like “Tradition,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “Sunrise, Sunset” and the touching “Do You Love Me?”, were mesmerizingly performed by American actors, each of whom learned Yiddish! Steven Skybell, who portrayed Tevye, had performed the role on Broadway in 2016, as did Jennifer Babiak, who played Golde.
Their performances brought me to tears, to cheers, to my feet shouting “Bravo!” as the cast took their curtain call.
Who would think that I could enjoy the classic “Fiddler on the Roof,” performed in Yiddish, and it would be so compelling, so superb and so understandable! You must try it and see it for yourself, you’ll love it!