There's something about a well-told folktale--as long as the storyteller doesn't junk it up with lots of hokum: talking teapots, singing crabs, workaholic dwarfs. Maybe these stories appeal to my inner child, maybe their archetypal characters stimulate the unconscious, but I love things like Lynn Shapiro's musical adaptation of Isaac Bashevis Singer's children's story, Mazel and Schlimazel, based on a Central European folktale. Shapiro never strays far from Singer's simply written, witty story of two spirits--Mazel (Yiddish for "good luck") and Schlimazel ("bad luck")--and their battle over a likable peasant boy, Tam. Nor does Shapiro, who also directs, allow her cast to slip into the sort of self-indulgence and condescension that makes too many children's shows boring for kids and unwatchable for adults: her tight, adept comic ensemble energetically and playfully retell the story in a way that entertains both. Music is supplied by the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band (Chicago's best), directed by Lori Lippitz. At the Northwest Suburban Jewish Community Center, 1250 Radcliffe, Buffalo Grove, 708-392-7411. Saturday, December 24, 7 PM. $10; $7 for children. Then at Beth Hillel Congregation, 3220 Big Tree, Wilmette, 708-256-1213. Sunday, December 25, 3 PM. $8; $4 for children.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Susan Varick.