Yiddish scat at the Tony Awards
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Yiddish scat at the Tony Awards

How did the Jewish nominees and productions fare at the 75th Tony Awards? While Billy Crystal didn't win, he definitely had the audience in stitches.

Billy Crystal performing a Yiddish scat routine during the 75th annual Tony Awards 2022. Photo: Screenshot
Billy Crystal performing a Yiddish scat routine during the 75th annual Tony Awards 2022. Photo: Screenshot

“Ella Fitzgerald, wherever you are, I apologise in advance.”

Billy Crystal gave this year’s Tonys a jolt of Jewish shtick when he coaxed the audience into a call-and-response Yiddish scat routine

In a good-faith mockery of Fitzgerald’s own famous scat routine, Crystal, in character as his Mr Saturday Night character Buddy Young Jr., let loose with a series of nonsensical guttural sounds vaguely approximating Yiddish.

He then gleefully entered the audience for a bit of crowd work, messing with attendees Samuel L. Jackson and Lin-Manuel Miranda – who unwittingly became a Jewish Hamilton alter ego: “I’m Alexander Rabinowitz.”

After briefly cursing “an old Jew’s worst nightmare: stairs,” Crystal ended his routine by leading Radio City Music Hall in a giant “Oy vey” chant. Crystal shined throughout the night, despite Mr Saturday Night missing out on all five awards it had been nominated for.

Some other Jewish nominees were more successful.

The Lehman Trilogy, an expansive play about multiple generations of the Jewish banking family, took home Best Play and four other Tonys. Company, a gender-swapped revival of the classic Stephen Sondheim show that premiered shortly after the Broadway titan’s death, won five awards including Best Musical Revival. And Take Me Out, a restaging of Jewish playwright Richard Greenberg’s 2002 play about a professional baseball player who comes out as gay to his teammates, won for Best Revival of a Play, as well as for its lead actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Girl From the North Country, a jukebox musical that reimagines Bob Dylan’s songbook for a Depression-era story about American hardship, won a Tony for Best Orchestrations.

In terms of performances, North Country star Jeannette Bayardelle delivered a showstopping live medley of Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone and Pressing On and there was one more Jewish appearance at the Tonys, Spring Awakening star Lea Michele reunited with that 2006 show’s cast for an anniversary performance.

WITH JTA

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