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NY Theater Reviews

Tovah Feldshuh


By Matt Windman

Tovah Feldshuh is making her New York night club debut. With a good voice and great comedic skills, what's she been waiting for?

Champagne is no longer the drink of choice at Feinstein's - at least not as long as Tovah Feldshuh is in residence, whose show has been extended an extra week to March 22. Some may consider that drink to now be Manischewitz, given Tovah's propensity for the old-fashioned Jewish humor that was once so prominent in the Catskills. Upon seeing an uninhabited table at the start of the show, she asks whether it's been reserved for the Passover prophet Elijah.

But considering the insane amount of energy and dedication that she puts forward, one can only imagine the amount of coffee that Tovah might be drinking. This being her New York nightclub debut, the actress and comedienne has devised a self-described zany one-woman musical comedy." And while, for the record, she has a pretty decent singing voice, her comedic skills are being delivered full force.

For 90 minutes of sketch comedy, she inhabits a gallery of male and female New York City characters, ages 8 to 80, like her Russian immigrant grandmother Ada in the Bronx , a Latina Miss Subwayl , socialite Muffy Brooke Asthma Alsop on Park Avenue, Molly Kelly Kugelberg, a confused 8-year-old resulting from a Jewish-Irish marriage, monotonic radio talk show host Sylvia Chronic and even Sophie Tucker. Each character gets a short monologue and usually then belts a song that can range from Gershwin and Jule Styne to Judy Collins and even rapping.

Does it sound like an overindulgence of mugging, props and sketches? Perhaps. But for the most part, Tovah makes it work through her wit, sincerity and hard work. And one imagines that Tovah could use some crazy fun in her system before she travels to London with Golda's Balcony. And no performer at Feinstein's has ever thanked her audience so sweetly, addressing us as new friends." She even greets us in the lobby following the show.

And why is it called Tovah in a Nutshell? Does this show represent a summary of who she is? In any event, she does recite the Hamlet line I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space."