Theater Review: 'A Chanukah Carol' -- 3 stars
A Chanukah Carol
Ten years ago, Patrick Stewart did a one-man version of "A Christmas Carol" on Broadway in which he played every character himself. Now, comedienne Jackie Hoffman is doing her own ethnically tinged, one-woman/multi-character riff on Dickens in "A Chanukah Carol," which has been extended past the holiday season.
Hoffman, who has a distinctively piercing, screeching voice, is best known for her small character roles in the Broadway musicals "Hairspray," "Xanadu" and, most recently, "The Addams Family," in which she played the ghoulish Grandmama. (She notes that she had about 12 minutes of stage time in all three shows combined.)
"A Chanukah Carol," which is barely an hour long and performed on an empty stage, begins with Hoffman ditching her family's annual Hanukkah dinner for what she describes as a "synagig" - that is, headlining at Temple Beth Shalom in Queens.
Frustrated by the temple's irritating congregants (who pester her about Nathan Lane or to speak louder) and the fact that she is not more famous, she storms off the stage.
She is then visited by the ghost of Yiddish stage and screen star Molly Picon, who materializes off the label of a Manischewitz bottle and tells Hoffman that she will be visited by three ghosts, which happen to include Shelley Winters and a childhood pal now working as a chorus boy in "Spider-Man."
In the present, Hoffman's family is seen endlessly bickering about the difference between Diet Coke and Coke Zero. In the apocalyptic future, Jackie sees that she finally becomes famous by starring on "Ugly Jew," an unbelievably distasteful reality series in which she bombs Israel. This finally makes her pledge to stop being a self-loathing Jew and attend Hanukkah dinner.
As directed by Michael Schiralli, Hoffman is shamelessly hilarious with her gallery of oddball characters, including an accented Patrick Stewart, who serves as the narrator, and Tiny Kim, a disabled Korean Pinkberry delivery boy.