Perhaps the last time you saw Dan Froot he was the postmodern mensch honking on a saxophone alongside David Dorfman in Live Sax Acts, both guys fitfully determined to understand what it means to be a man. Froot’s latest performance piece, sans Dorfman, also seeks to get at masculinity’s mysteries. But this time the mensch has transformed himself into a Yiddish gangster, and the period is a vaudevillian yesterday.
“I’m reaching out to what I lovingly call New York’s ‘Jew Wave Movement,’ ” says Froot, a New Yorker through and through who only recently gave up his sixth-floor East Village walk-up in favor of the single-family home in Venice, California, which he shares with his choreographer wife, Victoria Marks (both teach at UCLA), and their four-year-old twins. “Searching for authenticity as a Jewish man, I instead stumbled across the dirty secrets of American macho.” Latin associations with machismo notwithstanding, the Bessie-winning Froot studied Yiddish to prepare for this dance theater extravaganza, which is how he first discovered the word shlammer, meaning thug. His director—or partner in crime—is Obie-winner Dan Hurlin. Genug sheyn (“enough already”).