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Arts & Entertainment

Kingsborough bringing holiday cheer with “Oy Chanukah!”

Oy Chanukah!

With the holidays quickly approaching, On Stage at Kingsborough will be spreading that joy with its annual Hanukkah show, “Oy Chanukah!”

However, this year an exciting twist will be added to the tradition as two powerhouse talents collaborate for a compelling and exciting performance. Yiddish theater star and Tony-nominee Eleanor Reissa will perform with the Grammy Award winning trumpeter Frank London and the Klezmer Brass All Stars.

The performance will combine music with anecdotes and stories about Jewish life that are contemporary as well as from the old country.

“It’s done with humor and all very personal,” said the excitable Reissa. “It’s experiences that everyone in audience will be able to share. The stories are all in English. You definitely don’t have to speak Yiddish to enjoy it. People will just recognize that they’re going to leave the concert saying I didn’t know I knew that much Yiddish.”

Reissa, who was born in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn College, is excited to share her life experiences with audiences.

“I’m a funny girl from Brooklyn and people from Brooklyn are funny,” she said, stressing that she intends to portray a serious side as well. “My parents were Holocaust survivors so I have that color in my life, but I also have the culture of Brooklyn and the fun of Brooklyn and fun of being a kid in America. Combining the two things makes what I do somewhat unique.”

Photo by Pawel Mazur, Jewish Culture Festival Krakow
Photo by Pawel Mazur, Jewish Culture Festival Krakow

To add to the evening, Reissa is also excited to share the stage with London and his band. “The band consists of the finest musicians around. For me it’s such a treat to play with them. Each of them is first class,” she said. “They’re all great alone. Then you put them together and they’re excellent. They play in such a lively fashion and the music is classic. It resonates. Many songs will be familiar and many new. And many are a new take on old favorites.”

Reissa wants to assure audiences that the show is easily accessible for people from all walks of life. “Yiddish is becoming a little cooler, hipper and younger people are enjoying it, especially because the music is alive and it’s such an expressive culture and language that it pulls people like a magnet,” said Reissa. “To me, it’s a language like French or Spanish. You don’t have to be Jewish.”

Executive Director of On Stage at Kingsborough Anna Becker is thrilled about the production. “We bring artists for our Chanukah celebration every year, but what it makes it special this time is that we have got two great artists doing a show together,” she said. “The sheer amount of talent we’re bringing on stage makes it extra special.”

Above all, Reissa wants to bring joy. “There is so much darkness we are living in now,” she said. “I would like their hearts to be lighter and to feel warmth and humanity and for a minute to be safe and happy.”

“Oy Chanukah!” will be performed on Sunday, December 6 at 3 p.m. Tickets start at $30. For more information, visit www. onstageatkingsborough.org.

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