‘Cabaret’ Opens in Jerusalem, Without Fallen Music Director

Director and cast vow to honor memory of Chaim Tukachinsky, who died in hit-and-run incident in September

Steve Klein
Steven Klein
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File photo of the late Chaim Tukachinsky, pictured in 2014.
File photo of the late Chaim Tukachinsky, pictured in 2014.Credit: Emil Salman
Steve Klein
Steven Klein

When “Cabaret” opens at J-Town Playhouse on Thursday evening, the person who brought it to Jerusalem won’t be there.

Chaim Tukachinsky, the show’s musical director, was killed in a hit-and-run incident in the capital during the Sukkot holiday in September.

The 31-year-old, a professional pianist, was run down while walking back from the Western Wall. A Spanish journalist, Julio de la Guardia, was later charged with manslaughter and driving under the influence.

Aviella Trapido, the production’s director, told Haaretz that Tukachinsky chose “Cabaret” after seeing the show in Los Angeles last summer.

“He came and said, ‘We have to do this show,’” recalled Trapido. “I wasn’t sure if Jerusalem was ready for such a show, but he convinced me to do it. This was his baby.”

Trapido, who hails from Johannesburg, said she had worked together with Tukachinsky for several years, noting they were close friends and colleagues.

“We lost our musical director, our leader,” she said. “It was difficult for the cast. It was quite a blow for all of us, as well as for the general music community in Israel. But thankfully he’d managed to work with the cast enough that they were already solid on their music. We were fortunate enough to have him for a crucial amount of time, and we are continuing in his honor,” she said.

Trapido said the new musical director, Dvir Sadeh, had “the difficult task of taking on a broken heart.” However, she added that Sadeh has been “fantastic, as has the cast.”

As for the musical – which is set in 1931 Berlin, with the Nazi Party on the rise – Trapido feels its message is just as important now as when it debuted on Broadway in 1966.

“We are in a very volatile situation today with anti-Semitism on the rise, so ‘Cabaret’ is extremely relevant,” she said. “It tells the story of a world going mad through the prism of a seedy, bawdy, colorful cabaret, so it almost acts as a bandage to a much bigger problem – which people are refusing to see for all sorts of reasons, be it natively, ignorance or disbelief.”

There will be eight further performances between November 20 and December 8. For tickets, call the AACI at 02-566-1181.