Saturday Night at Grossinger's

A Musical Comedy

March 26-July 31, 2005

Book by
Stephen Cole

Music by
Claibe Richardson

Lyrics by
Stephen Cole & Ronny Graham

Conceived by
Rita Lakin & Doris Silverton

Eydie Alyson, Larry Gelman, Bruce Katzman, Barbara Minkus, Barry Pearl, and Jeff Wiesen.

Directed by
Susan Morgenstern

Musical Direction
by Paul Chipello

Choreographed by
Devra Korwin

Produced by
June Sattler

Theatre West Executive Director
John Gallogly
Call 323-851-7977

Group Sales 818-788-4396
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Tickets: Adults $30, Seniors $27, Students $15, Groups 15 or more $20


Theatre West presents the musical comedy SATURDAY NIGHT AT GROSSINGER'S, a tunefull tale about one of the most popular resorts and entertainment centers located in the Catskill mountains of New York state, and the family that ran the place like it was family!

The setting begins on the main stage at the resort during the dinner show on a winter's night. Seems that the entertainment for the evening, consisting of Judy Garland, comic Alan King, and the dancing team of The Nicholas Brothers, couldn't get through the snow due to their tour bus being stuck along nearby highway 17. So the entire Grossinger family consisting of Papa (Larry Gelman) Elaine (Eydie Alyson) Paul (Jeff Wiesen), Harry (Bruce Katzman), and Jennie (Barbara Minkus) put the show on by themselves. >From there, the family begins to unfold on the history of their pride and joy starting when Papa, who arrived to America is the early 20th Century from "the old country" to make a life, bought a small parcel of land to start a farm and to have daughter Jennie start a family. The family part was a success, but the farm was a failure! So in order to take care of expenses, they decide to take in boarders. >From there, the boarding house became a resort where folks from the New York City boroughs could escape the heat of the summer (as well as the soot and grime of the city), for a few days of rest and relaxation while dining (constantly), and being entertained by some of  show biz's big name stars, as well as plenty of other entertainers who would later become bigger names in their own right!!

This charming musical with book by Stephen Cole,  music by Claibe Richardson and lyrics by Cole and Ronny Graham, conceived by Rita Lakin and Doris Silverton, is a loving tribute to the days when such resorts were the place to go for the finest of food (much of it was kosher since these resorts attracted much of the Jewish population of New York city and northern New Jersey), and the best choice of entertainment outside of Broadway! The musical score is very lively and the lyrics catchy. Paul Chippello's musical direction with Mark Tavarez on bass, Craig Fine on the drums, and Chappello on the piano give this musical a feel of the days when stage shows were real stage shows, created to please all! The entire cast playing the Grossinger family is wonderful, including Berry Pearl as Sheldon Seltzer, the waiter turned comical MC who rattles the jokes and gags to keep the audience well amused. But the real star of the show is Barbara Minkus. Her musical ability to sing in a comical way gives this stage production its charm and appeal. She's a little dynamo with her signing as well as her comic timing!  With her performance, she really presents a longing for such stage shows of a not-so-long ago period. A bit of trivia: the premise of this production was actually based on a real event that occurred at Grossinger's around 1962, when Garland, King, et. al, couldn't perform due to the weather and the family had to make sure that the show would go on by presenting it by themselves! The audience as expected, loved it!

Another note is Melissa Ficociello's set design of a stage complete with those gold colored shiny 'curtain' ribbons, the kind that was popular in Las Vegas stage shows at that time. Since Vegas was nearly 3000 miles away, one would still get a feel of the that desert town. (Minus the gambling of course!)

Directed by Susan Morgenstern, with choreography by Devra Korwin, SATURDAY NIGHT AT GROSSINGER'S in a wonderful musical to experience and enjoy. If one remembered attending some of those Catskill resorts located within the 'borsch belt', then this musical is for them! For the rest of those who never knew what it was like being there, then this production will show what one missed out on!  Jewish or Gentile, this musical is the place to be! And who says that they don't make 'em like they used to anyway??

The Tolucan  

A Trip to the Borscht Belt

It was a stroll down memory lane for the folks that packed Theatre West to see the musical comedy “Saturday Night at Grossinger’s.” And it was a very personal journey for Sherman Oaks’ own Larry Gelman. He says, “It’s déjà vu! As a kid I worked as a bellboy at the Catskills resort and had the pleasure of knowing the Grossinger family personally. It’s a happy trip back in time to revisit ‘the Borscht belt.’” As Papa, Larry sings, dances a little and helps recreate the story of Jennie Grossinger (played by the dynamo Barbara Minkus), the force behind the famous Jewish vacation spot that excluded no one. It was embraced by New Yorkers who wanted to breathe some fresh air for awhile and had the reputation for treating the guests like family. Entertainment and over-abundance of food was their hallmark. “How do you lose weight at Grossinger’s? Go home.” The show, produced by June Sattler and cleverly directed by Susan Morgenstern, is a gem, filled with heart and humor. Go, laugh a little, it couldn’t hurt

Metro LA Magazine
April 12-26 edition
Chit Chat
by Don Crigware

Sat. Nite at Grossinger’s

My favorite musicals have both entertainment value as well as substance a la Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. They tell an appealing story and are sometimes based on real-life characters as with Gypsy.

Theatre West’s world premiere Saturday Night at Grossinger’s fits the bill and should be Broadway bound at some point in the near future.  Susan Morgenstern directs Stephen Cole’s thoroughly new show (conceived by Rita Lakin) that is a surefire instant hit for TW!  An original, fresh and funny historical musical bio -vaudeville style - of  the Grossinger family’s entertainment enterprise in the Catskills, this show has it all, even a dramatic monologue in song like “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy or “Losing My Mind” from Sondheim’s Follies for star Barbara Minkus as Jennie Grossinger.

Minkus turns in a blockbuster performance, along the lines of her Molly Picon portrayal in Picon Pie a couple of years back.  She played the diminutive star first at the Santa Monica Playhouse and last summer brought the show into New York.  Minkus has a great voice, is one hell of an actress and lends Jennie Grossinger all the guts and gusto she has to give.  Grossinger was known as a superior businesswoman — married to her job, in fact -- sometimes to the exclusion of dealing with her own family.

Other players in the company such as Barry Pearl as the talented waiter Sheldon (in unrequited love with Jennie), and the very funny Larry Gelman as Papa Grossinger give the show much of its comedic flair.  Praise as well goes to Eydie Alyson and Jeff Wiesen as Jennie’s children Elaine and Paul and to Bruce Katzman as husband Harry Grossinger (who just happened to be Jennie’s cousin as well).

Katzman is an old friend, and I was excited to see him hold his own in the singing and tap dancing department. Grossinger’s came to fame long before Las Vegas, and it is important to note that .Jennie was amongst the first to welcome all religions, creeds and nationalities to her establishment.  She was a hostess with the mostest who made a difference.

Some wrong decisions?  Never about the business.  Martha Stewart she wasn’t, but then again nobody’s perfect. Jennie’s weakness was in keeping the family united and in a good Jewish clan sometimes it takes a papa’s love and understanding to help get things moving on the right track again.  Praise goes to a couple of artists who are unfortunately no longer with us - Claibe Richardson who wrote the music and Ronny Graham who wrote lyrics with Cole. Glitzy set design by Melissa Ficociello is the ideal look for this ‘showbiz’ show.  Don’t miss it, thru May 15 only!