Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Viva Patshiva

Written by David Jenness
Interart Theatre, New York City
(2009)

Production photo

Occasionally a show is so involving, well-produced, and uplifting that you want to spread the word about it whether you originally intended to go as a reviewer or not. Viva Patshiva, which I attended with a friend as part of a podcast meetup based around the show Keith and the Girl, is that kind of show.

It's a gypsy rock opera which traces the love story about a hot-headed romantic gypsy girl (played by Chemda Khalili, the "girl" of the podcast) and her family's struggle to earn a buck by convincing a rich white man (actually, he turns out to be Mexican) to marry her ­ then pay them off to leave him alone.

Told through the lens of outsider's (David Jenness) perspective, Viva Patshiva embraces its audience, physically yanking us out of our seats to join the party where you give all you have until nothing is left.

While part of the buzz in the night might have been due to the frenetic fan energy of folks who had traveled significant distances to see the live performance from Chemda Khalili and her co-podcast-pals, this did add authenticity to the feeling of being part of something special. More special still was how skillfully the production is put together. Staged in a loft warehouse in Clinton and prefaced by all-you-can-drink box wine and beer (included in the $20 price of a ticket), the festive atmosphere built to just the right pitch, and the audience could wholeheartedly throw themselves into what revealed itself, in the end, to be a simple and meaningful love story between two people from different worlds.

Speaking to the cast and crew afterward confirmed the already solid sense that Viva Patshiva was a labor of love from folks who know what they're doing in a theatre. The skillful blending of narrative and music, and the particularly welcome surprise of Khalili's strong voice, led the enthusiastic audience into a post-show dance party and the celebrated Friday night midnight podcast of Keith and the Girl.

Reviewer: Rachel Lynn Brody