Some Reviews of Viva Patshiva:

Viva Patshiva - Long Live The Party

by Glenda Frank, New York Theatre Wire

"Viva Patshiva" is a party, a gypsy fiesta, and a rock opera. The score has clever, jazzy Roma (as in Gypsy) turns with Israeli and other Middle Eastern motifs woven in. The lyrics – mostly a comic struggle with nihilism -- are catchy and distinctive, and the over-the-top performers give it their all. I was impressed, and everyone had a good time.

The slim plot is about Zizou (Chemda), a young, moody dancer who is searching for true love. Shadow and Paprika, the leaders of the Roma family, however, are the real draw. They are passionate and animated about everything – love, fighting, and scheming to save the group from their many debts, especially the money they owe to the man who smuggled them into America. As played by the handsome Raven Solano and Lauren Hennessy, the couple are charismatic, compelling, and not very ethical. They conspire to wed Zizou to Duke Maldonado (Ray West), A strip club owner, in exchange for a large cash settlement. Duke is enchanted by her after catching her dance at the Pump Room, a strip tease club, and arrives at the Roma camp -- hidden under the BQE -- determined to win her hand. Although hesitant, she opens her heart, only to discover his duplicity. The pragmatic couple try to convince her that a wise woman winks at infidelities. Duke’s philandering is mirrored by a younger Roma, Onions, who has been breaking the hearts of married women all across Europe. He too is a problem for Shadow and Paprika, who are facing their own marital crises.

Every scene is filled with the songs – ballads, laments, celebrations – and dances of the family. "We celebrate reasons to live," they sing, "[in] a world where there are so many reasons to die. . . . Winter is coming. We must answer the call of the Interstate." This joking cynicism, this unconditional embrace of life with little expectation of success produce a continual appeal. And when the rock opera hits a note of sentimentality, the lyrics pull us back again to its wild optimism in the face of life on the edge. Lyrics like "Pretty soon you go from bad to worse and it only ends in a ride in a hearse" are sung on an upbeat. (The CD is on sale in the lobby.)

Jesse Kotansky's irresistible plaintive violin, middle-Eastern sounding music that makes you want to dance, choral roundel and fugue vocal arrangements are a draw in themselves. Chemda, appealingly exotic with her long dark curls, is an Israeli-American pop singer and comedienne. Gypsy choreography is by a Hungarian Gypsy dancer Andrea Kalan. Quick, lively direction is by Paul Smithyman. In 2008 this group was one of 17 international bands invited to perform at the Droma Gypsy Festival.

Funny, exciting, and sad – this show exerts an irresistible pull. It had its genesis in the comic rock band The Sacred Clowns, which mixed improvisational musicians and comedians from New York City's Lower East Side scene. In 2001, a core group began developing Jenness' rock opera by combining a sensational performance style with the charged melodies and dance steps of the Gypsies of Hungary and Transylvania.


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Viva Patshiva

by Rachel Lynn Brody, The British Theater Guide

Occasionally a show is so involving, well-produced, and uplifting that you want to spread the word about it whether you originally intended to go as a reviewer or not. Viva Patshiva, which I attended with a friend as part of a podcast meet-up based around the show 'Keith and the Girl,' is that kind of show.

It's a gypsy rock opera which traces the love story about a hot-headed romantic gypsy girl (played by Chemda, the "girl" of the podcast) and her family's struggle to earn a buck by convincing a rich white man (actually, he turns out to be Mexican) to marry her then pay them off to leave him alone.
Told through the lens of outsider's perspective, Viva Patshiva embraces its audience, physically yanking us out of our seats to join the party where you give all you have until nothing is left.

While part of the buzz in the night might have been due to the frenetic fan energy of folks who had traveled significant distances to see the live performance from Chemda and her co-podcast-pals, this did add authenticity to the feeling of being part of something special. More special still was how skillfully the production is put together. Staged in a loft warehouse in Clinton and prefaced by all-you-can-drink box wine and beer, the festive atmosphere built to just the right pitch, and the audience could wholeheartedly throw themselves into what revealed itself, in the end, to be a simple and meaningful love story between two people from different worlds.

Speaking to the cast and crew afterward confirmed the already solid sense that Viva Patshiva was a labor of love from folks who know what they're doing in a theatre. The skillful blending of narrative and music, and the particularly welcome surprise of Chemda's strong voice, led the enthusiastic audience into a post-show dance party and the celebrated Friday night midnight podcast of 'Keith and the Girl.'