A great entertainer takes a gander at getting older…and better!
By Joel Benjamin
Tovah Feldshuh is a throwback to the great entertainers in the tradition of Sophie Tucker and Danny Kaye with a touch of the great monologist, Ruth Draper. Not just a fine actress or singer, she puts her all into her new act, Aging is Optional, a brilliant, funny, compassionate look at the fine art of getting older…and better!?
She is not afraid to act her kishkes out or wear her heart on her sleeve, all the while belting out a generous program of songs, all hooked to the idea of aging. Of course, there are also costume changes and shtick.
She celebrated her recent appearance in Pippin with “I’m Flying” (Styne/Comden & Green) and later with her big song from that show, “No Time At All” (Stephen Schwartz), as a cheery sing-along that did double duty as her personal anthem.
Dar Williams’ “When I Was a Boy” was a poetic evocation of youth as seen from the vantage of age. Ms. Feldshuh’s face was a study in joy as she sang about meeting Peter Pan, boarding pirate ships and, most of all, being a girl hiding out as a boy.
She paid homage to her mom, Lilly and her Grandma Ada in beautifully acted skits. Lilly, who lived to over one hundred (!) brought two words to mind: chocolate and laughter. Memories of Ada evoked a torrent of faux Yiddish as well as the vision of a be-shawled firecracker who ultimately was Feldshuh’s biggest fan.
Reflecting on motherhood, she sang Maury Yeston’s “New Words,” a tender number about opening the wonders of the world to young ones. You could just see her sitting on her window seat with her children gazing out on Central Park.
A glowingly sung “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (Ewan MacColl) took the audience back to when she first caught sight of her soon to be husband, Harold Levy, backstage at a Broadway theater, and the oddball way he proposed to her using finger paint!
Somehow this led to two funny impersonations. The first was of elderly, schlumpy Harold Schlumberg who boasts of knowing the secret of turning beer into urine and the second, dreary Sylvia Chronic, the Cassandra of the airwaves, for whom there is no happiness that cannot be turned to tragedy.
She ended with an upbeat, and totally apt, medley of “You Make Me Feel So Young” (Josef Myrow/Mack Gordon), “Forever Young” (Dylan) and a reprise of “I’m Flying.”
Tovah Feldshuh is a living, joyful example of graceful aging with undimmed energy and talent.
Tovah Feldshuh/Aging is Optional (Opening: October 11th, October 15, 16, 17, 2015)
254 West 54th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue,New York, NY
Reservations and information: 646-476-3551 or www.Feinstein’s/54below.com