Oh, why is it that every time
I close my eyes he's there?
The water shining on his skin,
The sunlight in his hair?
And all the while I'm thinking things
That I can never share with him.
Growing up a dreamer, and not growing up in a big city, my first introduction to many musicals, movies and characters was through their soundtracks. I have fallen in love with many shows, many songs and many characters before actually seeing them. Sometimes when I finally see the show I'm disappointed, (Miss Saigon) other times, (In The Heights) the music was the perfect entrance to the magic on stage. I didn't see Barbra Streisand's film Yentl until I was in my late 20's. I was introduced however, to Avigdor, and the films other characters, a decade or so before. My mother's cassette tape made it's way into my room, and with my stereo and headphones, I was transported to Poland and Yentl's journey.
I really must buy the DVD as every time it airs I DVR it. The songs, especially 'No Wonder' are so beautifully constructed and performed, they pull me in each time. Mandy Patinkin's skinny dipping scene doesn't hurt either. I have posted images from the film before, but after watching pieces of it again on TV last week, I wanted to see if I could find any 'behind the scenes' info or images about Patinkin's nude scene. I didn't find much, except a forum in which it reported Streisand shared Patinkin didn't have any shyness during the scene, but what I did find was actually much more interesting, at least to me.
Patinkin and Streisand in Yentl (1983)
No Wonder (Pt 1)
I knew the Streisand's film was based on a short story, writer Isaac Bashevis Singer's Yentl the Yeshiva Boy, but I didn't know the story had previously been adapted for the stage. Yentl the play, opened on Broadway on Oct 23, 1975 with actor John Shea in the role of Avigdor. The play was performed at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre and last 223 performances before closing the following May. Years before Streisand's voice and songs were added, the production was a straight play, not a musical.
Asolo Repertory Theatre Production
This had me curious about the staging of the skinning dipping scene. Most of the production since the film's release seem to incorporated music, even if they don't use the film score. 2012's Asolo Repertory Theatre Production, starring Hillary Clemens as Yentl and Andrew Carter as Avigdor and featured original music composition by Jill Sobule. As you can see from the production stills, Carter's Avigdor kept his underwear on for the scene.
For 2014's Cleveland Play House production of the show, gorgeous actor Ben Mehl, did not... First off, let me say I am sorry, I searched and searched but could not come up with any shots from the productions nude scene, but, the review below, gives a pretty good description of what we all missed...
'Much pre-show buzz has been generated by the nudity in the production, to which I say, in the most Seinfeld-ian tones, relax already. The flesh on display is for comic effect, and effective it is. As Yentl's study partner and secret crush Avigdor, Mehl happily bounces across the set, naked and unafraid, and then plops down at the lip of the Allen stage next to a chagrined Yentl, disguised as the studious Anshel. Dripping wet from a swim (with other bare-bottomed boys, I might add), Avigdor takes his sweet time wriggling into a pair of rather thin white pants. (My guess is those in the front row could testify as to whether the actor had a historically accurate circumcision.) Who knew "Yentl" could be this sexy?'
Although I couldn't find any shots of Mehl 'bouncing across the set', I did found a couple of shirtless shots. The writers review certainly had me wishing I was in the front row, but at the same time, gave a rather tantalizing description that certainly helps visualize what the scene was like.
The story and play has been told with more of a focus on transgender themes, not the love story Streisand made by making changes to the ending. I love Streisand the singer, but it was really a crime Streisand the director didn't give the incredible voice of Mandy Patinkin something to sing. If anyone knows of any other stage productions from the show, or has any additional shots from the productions I featured, I would welcome them. In the meantime, lets end with a bit more of Patinkin's posterior from the film version.