Movie Title: MeshugaNutcracker
Rating: G, 2 hours 11 minutes (including an entertaining 15 minute intermission).
In a Nutshell: Fathom Events brings stage productions and other special events to theaters across the country for limited release.
For the month of December, it’s showcasing MeshugaNutcracker, a creative mix of Chanukah stories and songs set to the music of Tchaikovsky's beloved Nutcracker ballet. Sounds pretty crazy, right? "Meshugana" means crazy!
I need to disclose that this movie was co-created and directed by an old friend of mine from high school, Stephen Guggenheim! We sang in choirs and performed in school productions together, but he was always the one with true talent. I’m so excited for him and proud of him! He co-created the production, directed the film, did all of the vocal arrangements, and stars as the Mayor of Chelm. Talented indeed.
This is a film version of a stage production that was first workshopped in 2003, which has been performed every year since. The moving stories illustrate Jewish strength, tradition, and faith. Just so you know, no actors were harmed in the reenactment of the Maccabean revolt. (wink)
- Jewish tradition and values
- “Light can always overcome the darkness.” – Jacob (Jackson Davis)
- “Light is everything. Together, our lights can shine more brightly.” – little girl (Shannon Guggenheim)
- We witness miracles every day and sometimes take them for granted.
Things I liked:
- Cute introduction by Kevin Weisman in the film version of the stage production.
- Get that phlem going as you learn about the foolish people of Chelm, a mythical town in Poland of Jewish folklore.
- Eight actors perform 20 original songs. You’ll also hear Handel’s famous “Messiah” being sung with new lyrics about dreidels. It is also the number eight that represents the number of times the funny cast yells, “Oy!” ha ha
- The costumes are clever and colorful, incorporating symbols that represent various traits of the characters, such as corn fields, scrolls of the Torah, a Kiddush cup, and the Jerusalem skyline.
- Continue watching during the final credits in the end for more clever jokes, video clips of the cast, and upcoming features that are coming soon to the Theater of Chelm.
- Christians will be able to learn about Jewish customs and stories appreciate the rich religious and culture celebrated this time of year.
- You’ll want to stay seated during the intermission just to enjoy the entertaining lessons and quizzes on Yiddish sayings, Jewish traditions, and items for discussion.
- Cute, whimsical set.
- Talented cast!
Things I didn’t like:
- I love that each time the cast performs live, they invite a celebrity to surprise the audience in the end. This movie version of the show features Bruce Vilanch, who was an embarrassing disappointment, bumbling his way through his parts. Granted, he was only given minutes to prepare, and I’m sure not many of us could do any better under those circumstances. On another note, I loved his “Jewbacca” t-shirt.
- After the intermission, you get a quick glance of the surprisingly small audience that watched the production while it was being filmed. I’m so glad that it is now being seen in movie theaters across the country through Fathom Events so that more people can enjoy it.
Tips for parents:
- Challenge your children to find the hidden gold coin on each of the characters’ costumes.
- The second act may prove too long for children, who might get antsy.
- Safe entertainment for all ages.
- Christian children will probably be unfamiliar with the Jewish stories and history lessons, so it's a great opportunity to expose them to this faithful nation.