Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Since Filler is the entire show, director John Shooter has kept the 80-minute performance elemental on an uncluttered stage occasionally decorated with Jeremiah Hosie's projections. Filler frequently invites the audience to join in on songs every baby boomer will know, but there's no potentially uncomfortable one-on-one audience participation.
Fillerwho previously appeared at MetroStage in 2005 in another solo show, Filler Up!now lives in Canada, but she grew up in New Zealand; her mother's parents left Germany ahead of the Nazis, while her Polish father survived the Holocaust and always yearned to hear popular songs translated into Yiddish. ("A Hard Day's Night"? "Satisfaction"? Why not, she says.)
Taking on the accents and comments of family members and friends, Filler recounts how she always knew music would be part of her lifebut in what way? Her grandmother loved Beethoven, her mother wanted her to become as big a star as Judy Garland, and she was partial to folkies like Peter, Paul and Mary. (Along the way, she recorded a song titled "You Can't Make a Turtle Come Out." She has proof.)
The throughline of Filler's reminiscences comes from her interactions with three Jewish musicians, all named Lenny. The first was Leonard Bernstein, whom she sought out in her teens when he came to Auckland to conduct. (The performance includes a brief film titled "Mr. Bernstein," co-written by Filler and directed by Francine Zuckerman, which recounts the connection between the famed composer-conductor and her father's experiences in a displaced persons' camp after World War II.)
She met the second Lenny when she worked as a driver for a car service in New York City, and her actions during that trip may be responsible for the continuing existence of one of the most famous current popular songs. Her experiences making contact with the third Lenny, a contemporary musician, bring the performance to a resounding end.