Monday, April 19, 2010

Meet the Modern Day Male Yenta of Musical Theatre

Meet the Modern Day Male Yenta of Musical Theatre

Ever wonder why “Fiddler on the Roof” is one of the most frequently revived Broadway musicals even though it was not considered a hit during the original tryout? Maybe you’re wondering what Chava is up to now? Ask Michael Colby.

Do you have a song stuck in your head from that ride up the elevator to your morning meeting that you know comes from a classic Broadway musical but you can just barely see the face of the actor as she crosses the stage and can’t remember the name of the play, the song or the actor? Ask Michael.

Want to know what the young, handsome, talented Tony nominated boy from “Falsettos” is up to these days? Ask Michael.

In the “Fiddler on the Roof” script, Yenta is the old-world Eastern European match-maker who makes it her business to know everyone else’s business. In 2010, that might be Michael Colby’s job albeit in a less intrusive way-- at least when it comes to Jews in musical theatre.

You see, Michael is a musical theatre historian, librettist/lyricist and performer; and he knows what everyone in musical theatre is up to. His Facebook® friend list includes around 1,000 people--more than half of whom are plugged in to musical theatre.

Sit down with Michael and you will learn that “West Side Story”, the classic play and movie about a forbidden love between a Puerto Rican Girl and a tough white kid from the streets of New York was originally written about a Jewish boy’s tragically fated romance with a Catholic girl.

Spend a little more time and you learn that Nora Bayes who sang and wrote “Shine On Harvest Moon” was born Dora Goldberg; or that Ed Wynn--especially remembered for his role in the 1956 "Playhouse 90" television drama "Requiem for a Heavyweight" and his role as “Uncle Albert” in the film “Mary Poppins”--was born Edwin Leopold.

The Jewish contribution to the American Musical goes well-beyond turn of the century Yiddish Theatre--revolutionizing the writing and acting in such memorable shows as “Show Boat,” “Pal Joey,” “Oklahoma!”, “Carousel”, and even “Cocoanuts” starring the Marx Brothers.

And Michael Colby can tell you all about it. So, it seemed natural to ask Michael to help put together a musical revue of the Jewish Contribution to the American Musical for a one-night only June 13th fund-raising event to benefit the social and educational services provided to the Middlesex County, New Jersey area by Congregation Neve Shalom.

Michael has woven 100+ years of stage and screen musical theatre into a truly unique 2 hour experience; and pulled together a small, dedicated and truly talented group of Jewish acting professionals including Leah Horowitz (“Les Miserable”, “La Cage Aux Folles”), Jonathan C. Kaplan (Tony nominated for “Falsettos”) and Neva Small (“The Impossible Years”, “Something’s Afoot”, and Chava in the film version “Fiddler on the Roof”) to help bring the experience to life.

The performance is scheduled for 4:00PM, June 13th at the Forum Theatre on Main Street in Metuchen, New Jersey- a quick walk from the Metuchen Train Station.

Seating is limited. Tickets are on sale now.

To schedule interviews with Michael Colby, Michael Lavine (musical director), and Neva Small contact Michael Colby at 732-494-2659;; or

For more information about the show visit or call (732) 548-2238.

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