Pinafores, Buttercups And Bagels

Ian Bradley looks at how the quintessentially English Gilbert and Sullivan are making waves on the New York stage, in Yiddish.

As the curtain rises on Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, Little Buttercup offers her wares to the sailors on board however they seem strangely out of kilter with Her Majesty's Navy's normal list of provisions - bagels, knishes and latkes! And she's not even Buttercup, she's Putershisl.

And, shock horror, someone called Labe, who in a parallel universe is Ralph Rackstraw, exclaims not that he is an Englishman, but that he is a Guter Yid - a good Jew.

This is Der Yiddisher Pinafore which, along with Der Yiddisher Mikado and Di Yam Gazlonim (The Pirates of Penzance), is delighting Jewish audiences in New York.

And whilst one would expect 21st century Americans to struggle with the quirks of Victorian Englishness, transport those notions of Empire, Establishment and Admiralty into 2000 years of Jewish migration and the solution becomes obvious - Ko-Ko, the suburban tailor and Lord High Executioner of Titipu is Khay-Shpay, a Jewish tailor from the lower East side.

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Ian Bradley looks at how the quintessentially English Gilbert and Sullivan are making waves on the New York stage, in Yiddish.

As the curtain rises on Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, Little Buttercup offers her wares to the sailors on board however they seem strangely out of kilter with Her Majesty's Navy's normal list of provisions - bagels, knishes and latkes! And she's not even Buttercup, she's Putershisl.

And, shock horror, someone called Labe, who in a parallel universe is Ralph Rackstraw, exclaims not that he is an Englishman, but that he is a Guter Yid - a good Jew.

This is Der Yiddisher Pinafore which, along with Der Yiddisher Mikado and Di Yam Gazlonim (The Pirates of Penzance), is delighting Jewish audiences in New York.

And whilst one would expect 21st century Americans to struggle with the quirks of Victorian Englishness, transport those notions of Empire, Establishment and Admiralty into 2000 years of Jewish migration and the solution becomes obvious - Ko-Ko, the suburban tailor and Lord High Executioner of Titipu is Khay-Shpay, a Jewish tailor from the lower East side.