New York, Joel Grey discussed on KQED Radio Show


At nine eight central on PBS this is fresh air and if you're just joining us we're talking about the ongoing Yiddish production of fiddler on the roof in New York my guesser Joel grey who directed it he also as you know is most famous for starring in the original Broadway production and the movie of cabaret and also with us is Steven sky bell who stars in this production as to have yeah and there's a cast recording that will be released soon I'd like to hear a little bit about your family stories to the extent that you know what of how and when they came to the United States Mike my grandparents came separately and met in Cleveland Ohio and I said to my grandmother who never really learn to speak English very well I said what year was it that you came she says was given I get AC Schnee she said there was a big snow that's how she remembered when she came by yourself on the boat you think how hard please how scary and then they they found each other in she came to be with her cousin and she met my grandpa and they had five daughters and I'm Mary Kay they found a managed care and they were safe they were killed and then your father Mickey Katz he spoke Yiddish an English and he was a performer he sang with spike Jones's band and then he started his own band and sang sung parity's that were part English part Yiddish and you won the wilds of the land sea street home of get filled the vision kosher meat and it with the knife hairs on C. he flicked him a check noon then he was only three of a of a truck and so we took the most American hero and may diminish hello that was the theme for the Davey Crockett TV show or that did he did the other party version so right so it so your father knew Yiddish and you sign with him so you could sing the energy but apparently you didn't necessarily know what the words meant no I didn't know what I was talking about much man I certainly couldn't speak it right fortunately I wish I had never too late well here I am right you know I'm in the middle of it so Stephen what do you know about how your family came to the US and where do they well on yes my father's father came from a small town in north east Poland called through Volsky and it it it was before the first World War it was they they all of his brothers came over one of the time to avoid conscription into the army they were just apparently pulling into our US history that's right and so my grandfather came over when he was sixteen again it's like can I cannot even imagine getting on a boat when you're sixteen and going you know maybe he thought it was a bit of a an adventure but it has to have been more than that anyway he met my my grandmother who was that lived in Chickasha Oklahoma she had a kosher she was the daughter of sort of the towns elected rabbi he really wasn't a rabbi but everybody went to him for decision making and they kept kosher in Chickasha Oklahoma and she somehow met my grandfather and when my great grandfather her father met my grandfather he didn't believe that he was Jewish because he didn't have a beard and so he shoved a Yiddish newspaper in his face and said read that and my grandfather dead and thankfully he did because that's why I'm here on my mother's side of the family was a little more city dwelling from Warsaw Poland and so they came to Chicago and I don't know much more about that except I do know that some of my grandfather my father's father's family might and uncle Sydney and regain a did not come over early and they ended up in a work camp in Siberia and then they came later and so and their children actually saw our fiddler on the roof and I was very touched that they that they came and saw it but there they were the closest to the Holocaust for me but they it was a success story in that they made it over one of the most famous songs from fiddler on the roof the sunrise sunset which is a song that has been sung at countless Jewish weddings for generations and I I took children Harnick this I really so strongly disliked the song for so many years because my parents were among the parents who played the cast album over and over and over and they were songs that just sounded so like schmaltzy to me and then when I started to really understand more about music and about lyric writing and about bahkan Harnick the composers of the score and how great and varied their shows you are yeah and it yeah and meaningful I realize like what a beautiful song that is and there's like jazz versions of the song you know instrumental jazz versions so I want to play the Yiddish version from the show and it can Stephen I'm going to ask you for what you thought about when you were recording this well I mean the thing that's interesting to me is that it's it's about the wedding cycles wedding but they chose to let it be voice through the parents of mostly the parents point of view which is a and it's about the passage of time is that the little girl that's the little girl how did the how to time pass like that and to me that's that's just so beautiful that that should be the musical ice moment is that life fleets by and the children become the adults and it's it's just laced with laughter and tears and so I I mean that that is not musical theater you don't recognize that kind of utterances a musical theater utterance but it's it is very meaningful and so much about loss yeah Stephen I'm gonna ask you sing a few of the lines in English for people who don't know the English version of the song and then we'll hear you can is this a little girl I can read is this the little boy at play I don't remember growing older when did the day beautiful let's hear the Yiddish version and the actress who plays your wife in it is singing with you and Jennifer Bobby Hauck yeah so here we go.

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