by Sandi Durell
That’s who appeared on March 7th at the Metropolitan Room – – Papa Fyvush Finkel (proud as a peacock) watching the opening of their family show, as his two sons Ian Finkel, the World’s Greatest Xylophonist, and Elliot Finkel, concert pianist extraordinaire, and their band, blew the roof off this popular nightclub to a jam-packed house.
I could go on and on with expletives and adjectives of praise as some of the greatest of the great American Songbook came alive in the hands of these extraordinary musicians and the family who dub themselves The Jewish Trapp Family. When it comes to jokes, yup, they do that too!
The fact is that between Ian and Elliot, their musical styles catapult from grandeur to pop to Latin, and a lot of heart. At times, I could swear I was listening to an entire symphony orchestra! And boy these guys can swing with the best of them! The exquisite Gershwin medley of songs, including “I’ve Got Rhythm,” “Summertime,” Oh, Lady Be Good,” Nice Work If You Can Get It” wrapped up with “Rhapsody in Blue” reminded me of a palette of beautiful colorful embellishments that swept, turned and morphed as one song begot another and another.
And suddenly it was time for Papa to be introduced, and with a big smile, Fyvush took the stage, “the face of shtick,” back where he belongs – – in front of an audience at the tender age of 93. He’s got jokes galore … maybe there’ll be a Jewish President who’ll say . . . “Ma, you must come to my Inauguration” . . . she retorts “Big deal, it’s not a steady job!” And then he sings “‘S’ Wonderful” – and it is – and he’s ready to tell another joke – “Jewish people don’t drink; it interferes with their suffering.”
Boy, does he have stories to tell – from his run at the Hausman Theater in Finkel’s Follies and the 3/4’s of his life devoted to Yiddish Theatre on Delancy Street, to his beautiful marriage of 61 years. He performed in the 1st National Tour of “Fiddler on the Roof” – making his way up the ladder from innkeeper to butcher and finally Tevye, delivering a heart-warming “If I Were a Rich Man” and “To Life.”
This was an evening of sheer delight and inspiration, to say the least. Here’s to Fyvush Finkel’s next show at 98!
In the audience was his theater pal Joan Copeland, waving and throwing kisses galore!
Special thanks to one of the sweetest guys I know Bernie Furshpan for suggesting the title to this article!
Photos/Video: Magda Katz