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June 15, 1990 - Image 70

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-06-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ENTERTAINMENT

BEAT THE CROWDS

TO

Jacques Demers

Musical Recalls The Life
Of Songwriter Moony Shapiro

Restaurant

For It's Great

EARLY DINNER SPECIALS

Sunday 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Monday thru Thursday 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

STEVE HARTZ

CHICKEN MARSALA ..... $10.95

he life of the late
Moony Shapiro is told
brilliantly at Detroit's
Attic Theatre in the musical
comedy, Songbook.
Shapiro was born Michael
Moony in Liverpool in 1906.
Playgoers will meet him as a
fictitious character credited
with writing some of the
greatest songs of the 20th
century. But to me, Moony is
family.
He immigrated to the
United States in 1924 where
he was adopted by a Jewish
couple, my grandparents,
Abe and Minnie Shapiro,
who lived in New York.
He cut his song-writing
teeth with "East River
Rhapsody," the inspiration
for what would become one
of his biggest hits, Feldman
Follies of 1926.
From Broadway, my Uncle
Moony went to Tinseltown
where Al Jolson's The Jazz
Singer, released in 1928, was
making movie music histo-
ry. Inspired, Shapiro wrote
the ageless "Talking Picture
Show."
It was right after he wrote
the big hit "Bumpity-Bump"
that I got to know Uncle
Moony. I was 13, and he sur-
prised me by visiting
Milwaukee and performing
at my bar mitzvah. He had
my family and friends in
tears with his latest tune,
"April in Wisconsin."
I knew right then that I
wanted to dedicate my life to
writing about entertainers.
But I never thought Moony
Shapiro would be one of
them.
Shapiro and I remained
close friends until his death
in 1977. When I moved to
Detroit in the 1950s, he
would come in and take me
to his favorite restaurant,
Esquire Delicatessen on
Dexter in Detroit. After
noshing on potato knishes
and chopped liver, we would
hang out at Zukin's, the ice-
cream parlor two blocks
from my home.
In 1954, Uncle Moony ask-
ed me to play a bit part in
Happy Hickory, the truly
American show about a
magic tree. The musical,
which was staged in Tel
Aviv, was anything but
smokin'.
So, it was no surprise when
Moony and I returned to the
United States and we got a
call to appear on the "Ed

with a wine demi-glace

MICHIGAN WHITEFISH . $11.95

broiled with lemon butter

PETITE FILET MIGNON . $12.95

topped with sherried mushrooms

The Above Entrees Include:
Choice of Homemade Soup or Salad,
Fresh Market Vegetables, Starch & Dessert

EMBASSY

SUITES

HOTEL

28100 Franklin Rd.
Off Beck Rd. and
Northwestern Hwy.
Southfield

355.2050

OF SOUTHFIELD

FREE DINNER

WITH PURCHASE OF DINNER OF EQUAL OR GREATER VALUE
No Carry Out GOOD 7 DAYS A WEEK I Excludes Holidays I
GROUPS OF 8 ARE EXCLUDED FROM COUPON USE
COUPONS NOT VALID AT TABLES SERVED DAILY SPECIALS

15% Tip Added to Entire Bill • Does Not Include Tax or Liquor • Expires 6-21-90

FABULOUS
t
SUNDAY
BRUNCH
GROUPS OF OVER 8 ARE EXCLUDED

50

per person

FROM COUPON USE

HOLIDAYS
L 25080 EXCLUDES
SOUTHFIELD RD

Expires 6-21-90

(1 Block North of 10 Mile) 557-8910

24366
GRAND RIVER

3

BLOCKS WEST
OF TELEGRAPH

7 Mile

r.a
b. 6 Mile

537-1450

I FREE BANQUET ROOM AVAILABLE
Mexican or American Cuisine

YOU DON'T HAVE
TO GO
FOR TWO
DOWNTOWN FOR I
I I
AUTHENTIC
MEXICAN FOOD!
I INCLUDES: STEAK FAJITA, 2 TACOS, CHEESE EN-
WE COOK ONLY
CHILADA, EL PADRE BURRITO, TOSTADA,
WITH 100%
I GUACAMOLE DIP, RICE AND BEANS.
VEGETABLE OIL I • Dine In Only • One Coupon Per Visit
i
INCLUDING OUR BEANS. Lam' With Coupon • Expireskne 3t), 1990 il■Li

$9.95

Serving Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri. 11 a.m.-12 Mid.
Sat. 2 p.m.-12 Mid., Sun. 4 p.m.-10 p.m.
Armor,

Staff Writer

T

Susan Felder and company sing Shapiro's hits.

Sullivan Show." Sullivan
was excited to meet my
uncle and asked him to bring
his magical hickory. Guess
who played the tree?
After that, I decided that I
should stick to writing — not
acting.
But Moony didn't give up
and was still swinging in the
1960s; he penned "Messages
II" for Bob Dylan and also
wrote "Don't Play That Love
Song Any More."
The last time I saw Moony
was 1970, when he came in
to be with my family during
Rosh Hashanah and Yom
Kippur. Before he returned
to New York, he jokingly
told me that someone,
somewhere, someday will
write a musical about his
life.
Four years after he died,
Monty Norman and Julian
More, two longtime Moony

admirers, wrote The Moony
Shapiro Songbook, which
starred Jeff (The Big Chill)
Goldblum. It closed on
Broadway a day after it
opened.
But now, staged at the
Attic, the play is revitalized
with a talented, young cast
led by Paul Kerr as the
Storyteller and Tom Helmer
as Moony Shapiro. Uncle
Moony, you would have lov-
ed the way they sing your
songs.
In fact, Uncle, you would
have loved the whole show.
The music, the costumes, the
set, the performances were
out of this world. It's a
tribute to both you and the
Attic Theater. It runs
through July 1.
Today, as I see Shapiro's
life being retold in
Songbook, all I can say is,
mazel tov, Uncle Moony.

Performer Feinstein Lives
His Childhood Dream

RITA CHARLESTON

Special to The Jewish News

M

ichael Feinstein was
a shy and sensitive
child who dreamed
of making music. But to a lit-
tle boy growing up in Colum-
bus, Ohio, it seemed a dream
as far-fetched as any could be.
His dream is now a reality.
He performs 8 p.m. June 29 at
Oakland University's Bald-
win Pavilion, Meadow Brook.
Feinstein was reared in a
home that was filled with
music — not those of his con-
temporaries, but the music of
George and Ira Gershwin, Ir-
ving Berlin, Cole Porter and
other great musical giants of
the century.
His father, Edward, an ex-
ecutive in the meat business,
had been a band singer and

barbershop quartet member.
His mother, Mazie, was (and
still is) a tap dancer. Feinstein
began playing the piano by
ear at the age of 5, and much
of his youth was spent collec'
ting old 78 (rpm) records by
such legendary performers as
Al Jolson, Bing Crosby and
Fred Astaire, all of whom, he
says, influenced his singing
style.

But one of his greatest and
earliest musical idols was
Gershwin who, according to
Feinstein, "reached a part of
my being that had never been
reached before. When I heard
`Rhapsody in Blue' for the
first time, I was thrilled. I still
feel the thrill whenever I hear
Gershwin music. There is
something about the sounds,
the harmonies and the chords
that are very special to me."

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