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On Theater: ‘Gefilte Fish & Chips’ fillets performer’s childhood

"Gefilte Fish & Chips" is at the Huntington Beach Central Library Theater through March 22.
(Chris Trela)

Playgoers who have enjoyed Hershey Felder’s one-man shows at the Laguna Playhouse will find a kindred performance at the Huntington Beach Central Library Theater, a similar solo effort titled “Gefilte Fish & Chips.”

This one, however, doesn’t channel master musicians such as George Gershwin, Beethoven or Irving Berlin. Performance artist Daniel Cainer hits a little closer to home, using the show to portray his own life as a Jew growing up in England.

Granted, some of his references will be accompanied by a big question mark. Cainer takes pains to explain some of the more ethnic terms of his presentation — under an hour and a half long without intermission. And while it may not produce the belly laughs promised in his promo ads, it still draws chuckles, even from its gentile patrons.

Cainer’s heritage spills forth as the entertainer tickles the keyboard ivories and offers insights about this relative or that one, ending each bit with a photo of the real person projected onto a screen in a sort of tribute.

One of the funniest segments doesn’t concern a relative but a clergyman. In “Bad Rabbi,” Cainer details the shortcomings of a rabbi who has two weaknesses — cocaine and ladies of the evening. This fellow gets his own screened picture as well.

There also is the nervous period that Cainer spent entertaining in a small town in Germany. This one is accompanied by two photos — one of the town he visited and another of the same location in the early 1940s, not so inviting.

Cainer saves his best routine for last and uses his own father as the comedic target. Seems the old man conducted what he assumed was a secret affair with a lovely lady he encountered at the local laundromat — unaware that the pianist’s mother was enjoying a similar companionship during her husband’s absence.

You don’t have to be Jewish (or British) to get a kick out of Cainer’s routines, although it certainly would help. He’ll be serving up his “Gefilte Fish & Chips” weekends through March 23 on the stage usually inhabited by the Huntington Beach Playhouse.

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Auditions for a children’s production, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” will be held by the Laguna Playhouse this weekend. It’s a musical version directed by Joe Lauderdale with original music and lyrics by Mark Turnbull.

Tryouts, by appointment, are scheduled Friday and Saturday at the Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach, 1085 Laguna Canyon Road. Callbacks, by invitation, will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the same location.

For an audition appointment, call Wally Ziegler at (949) 497-2787, Ext. 294. Auditioners should bring a short monologue, a photo and a resume. “Tom Sawyer” will be performed from April 10 to 19 at the Laguna Playhouse.

TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Daily Pilot.

If You Go

What: “Gefilte Fish & Chips”

Where: Huntington Beach Central Library Theater, 7111 Talbert Ave., Huntington Beach

When: 2 and 7 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays through March 22

Cost: $45 to $65

Information: (855) 448-7469


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