I can summarize my thoughts on The Chairlady in just four words.
Go buy it now.
Before I start, let me issue the official disclaimer. This DVD is for women and girls only. Sorry guys, you are gonna have to sit this one out.
A highly entertaining and well depicted romp through the life of a typical Jewish family whose mother has uncharacteristically and extremely randomly ended up in charge of the biggest tzedaka event of the year, it is funny without being overly emoted and is just under two hours of non-stop fun and quite possibly, the best women’s production I have ever watched.
The story begins with Malka Gruen, a mother of five, who like so many other mothers finds herself wondering if there is more to life than doing laundry and picking up the dry cleaning. She jumps at the chance to help out with the local yeshiva’s annual tea and when she unexpectedly finds that she has inherited sole responsibility of the project, she sets out to prove to everyone, including herself, that she has what it takes to put together a classy event. As time progresses, we see a more confident and more fashionably attired Malka rise to the extremely time consuming challenge of coordinating this event, but as her family is forced to subsist on a diet of frozen waffles and pizza bagels, she struggles to find the equilibrium required to navigate the obstacles that keep coming her way.
What makes The Chairlady work is that the struggles that both Malka and her family face are the same issues that many of us face on a daily basis. While many of the productions that are staged are interesting stories about other people’s lives, for many of us, this IS our life. The script walks the fine line between not taking itself too seriously and not trying so hard to be funny that it fails to deliver and the cast does an admirable job bringing the story to life. The filming was done in Monsey and as a local resident, I had a blast identifying familiar houses and faces. One minor character in particular was so well done that I didn’t even recognize her as someone who lives just two houses away from me.
If I had to nitpick I would tell you I could find only three things wrong with The Chairlady, which while filmed in Monsey, is equally relevant to any Jewish community.
One: all the women carried flip phones. Yes, I know they were striving for the kosher phone look, but seriously? Flip phones?
Two: the women were actually wearing color, instead of head to toe black. This is New York. We wear black. End of story.
Three: They filmed a production in my own backyard and no one asked me to be in it? Count me in for your next project guys.
The Chairlady is a Wellspring Maayan Project and is distributed by Aderet Music. Look for it either at your local Judaica store online at www.mostlymusic.com.