On Saturday, December 15, “Hanukkah on the Roof!” transforms the Leon M. Goldstein Performing Arts Center into an early-1900s Russian shtetl with a special holiday concert themed to age-old musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”
This weekend’s performance will feature songs in Yiddish, English and Russian, starring theatre star Daniella Rabbani, Israeli ensemble 12th Night Klezmer and special guest vocalist Michael Einav from “Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish.”
The show reimagines a Hanukkah celebration inside the world of “Fiddler” and the village of Anatevka, combining beloved tunes from the show with Klezmer music from the Ashkenazi Jewish tradition.
“We are focusing on spirit, joy and the energy of the dancing,” said Music Talks founder Elad Kabilio, who will host Saturday’s concert. “It’s not polite, it’s very wild and it needs to take you to a different place in a different time.”
The show accomplishes this through a narrative that moves between familiar moments of “Fiddler on the Roof,” and at the same time adds layers that bring the story to life. For example, one scene mixes Tzeitel and Motel’s wedding with customary music from Eastern European-Jewish marriage celebrations.
Another number uses a drinking song to tell the story of a dreidel spinning faster and faster until it loses control, much like a person whose level of intoxication escalates as they continue to imbibe.
Kabilio assures that although the concert takes a Jewish lens and puts emphasis on languages that connect with a large demographic of Yiddish and Russian speakers in South Brooklyn, many of the show’s themes resonate universally.
Ideas like the dialogue between tradition and changing times, family honor, feminism and growing love are central to the “Fiddler” storyline and permeate across many different cultures. But perhaps the strongest motif of “Fiddler,” as well as Hanukkah itself, is finding joy within darkness - something that is eerily relevant still today, both in Eastern Europe and beyond.
It is this appreciation for life and surviving through the present moment that Kabilio had in mind while constructing a context for the performance.
“It’s a big celebration, because in the shtetl you are looking for an excuse to celebrate,” he mused. “It gives you an outlet to escape the shtetl and live life. In your mind you are in a simcha - you are transporting yourself to a place of happiness. You are not allowed to do this every day, so when you can, you go all the way.”
According to Kabilio, who is an accomplished cellist himself, MusicTalks is an organization with a mission to bring virtuosic music to intimate settings. No matter the venue’s physical size, Kabilio and the artists he works with create intimacy by breaking down the barrier between the audience and themselves.
A vital component of this is telling the story of a particular kind of music in such a way that it forms a conversation with listeners and gives them a new dimension to build a perspective on.
“When an audience member leaves a performance with something that inspires them and makes them more curious, they will go back home and listen to the music again,” explained Kabilio. “That’s a win for me.”
Tickets can be purchased online (www.OnStageAtKingsborough.org) or at the OSK box office (Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Boulevard).
Box office hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and one hour before curtain times
Phone: (718) 368-5596,