Do you have any plans for this evening? Does a Hanukkah musical set to the music of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker sound like your jam? You know, with lots of puns, like a number titled “My Fair Zadie”? And some Holocaust references? And a character named Yankel Schlumperdink, played by Bruce Vilanch?
If the answer’s yes, you’re in luck: To celebrate the last night of the Festival of Lights, The MeshugaNutcracker! will play in 350 movie theaters across the country. It’s about as subtle as that exclamation point suggests, with every character named Schmegegge or Schmednrik and every kitschy Jewish reference tossed in for good measure. Oh, and Bruce Vilanch also plays the menorah’s Shamash.
Produced by Guggenheim Entertainment, the musical has been playing in local community centers for 14 years, and was filmed in Los Angeles in 2016, creating the version that now screens in cinemas.
The show, co-producer Shannon Guggenheim said in a recent interview, was about optimism in the face of oppression, which does little to explain why literally every member of the cast wears a fruit basket, a flower pot, or a frying pan on their head. “No matter what religion you are, no matter what you celebrate this time of year,” Guggenheim said, “it’s about finding the light in people, finding light in yourself, letting the holidays truly illuminate everything around you.”
If you’re in an illuminated kind of mood, head over to the multiplex. And if you feel just a little bit of the MeshugaNutcracker goes a long way, check out this highlight reel below: