by Myra Chanin
Dudu Fisher is a class act, and an international one at that. He’s run the gamut from a illustrious career as a cantor at the at the Tel Aviv’s Great Synagogue and a 32 year stint conducting High Holiday Services at the late lamented Kutcher’s in the Catskills to starring in Israel, on Broadway and in London’s West End as Jean Valjean in Les Miz. His most recent coup may be even more amazing. Since 2012 Dudu has been starring in Dudu in Jerusalem in would-you-believe Branson, Missouri between November 1st and December 8th with tickets already on sale for 2016 and 2017. Dudu in Jerusalem is in New York, presented by the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, accompanied by his musical director/pianist Tomer Adaddi, where Fisher’s slightly tweaked show is entrancing a Jewish audience. The song list contains medleys about, naturally but not only, Jerusalem, selections from Fiddler on the Roof and Les Miserables, along with “Jailhouse Rock,” “My Way,” “There’s No Tomorrow,” “Coming to America” and “Kol Nidre” — the cantorial gem sung only on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement and the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar.
What is most amazing about Fisher is his honesty and authenticity no matter whether he’s speaking or singing. His family history explains his gratitude and strong connection to Christians. His father Michael, along with sixteen family members and friends, were hidden in a bunker for 16 months by the Kwarciaks, the family of his father’s best friend, who along with his two younger brothers, aged 8 and 10, bought food for the concealed Jews in neighboring towns to defray Nazi suspicions. FYI, for his father’s 80th birthday, Dudu brought Alfred Kwarciak, the youngest son, to Israel where the childhood friends were happily reunited and the Kwarciak family was honored as Righteous Gentiles. (http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-Features/Holocaust-survivor-reunited-with-Polish-rescuer)
Dudu’s mother wanted him to become a dentist. His grandfather wanted him to become a cantor. He wanted to sing like Elvis Presley. He managed to pull off two of the above three in one show.
As a person, Dudu walks the walk he talks which Branson ticketholders find as appealing as New Yorkers did last night. He’s faithful to Jewish traditions and even wrote a show called “Never on Friday,” about it. Shabbat is for prayer and family and he doesn’t perform on Jewish Holidays either. When the producers of Les Miz were celebrating a significant anniversary of the show by gathering all the Jean Valjeans on one stage, they selected a Sunday night for the event so Dudu could be present. Alas, the Sunday night they selected was the first night of the harvest festival called Sukkot, when work is forbidden, so Dudu spent it, traditionally, with his family in their sukkah, a walled structure covered with plants or palm leaves.
Adding heart to Dudu in Jerusalem is the exceptional video presentation designed by Fisher’s wife which supplies illustrations for his songs and words. Fisher’s accompanist is also a virtuoso in his own right. Dudu in Jerusalem is a warm and clever show with something for everyone. At two hours long, you get full measure. His banter is warm and his singing is perfect. I’ve never heard “Kol Nidre” sung with more passion, or “Bring Them Home,” dedicated to all the soldiers still serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, sung with more tenderness.
At the Museum of Jewish Heritage
66 Battery Place NYC
One additional performance remains, Wednesday, March 30th at 7:30 pm.