Schwartz's a love story centred on smoked meat
- March 29, 2011 6:14 PM |
- By Susan Noakes
A scene from Schwartz's the Musical, with, from left, Jim Cahill, Dominic Lorange, George Bowser, Stephanie Martin (dancing), Rick Blue and Vito DeFilippo. (©lucetg.com/Centaur Theatre)
The creative team behind Schwartz's The Musical is dreaming that their production about Montreal's famous deli might make it to Broadway one day. But are New York audiences hungry for a story about smoked meat and pickles, wrapped in a rivalry between Montreal and Toronto?
Not that that matters here in Montreal. The musical opens Thursday night at the Centaur Theatre and tickets are a hot commodity. You see, Schwartz's is more than a deli - it's an institution, a shrine, a part of the storied history of St. Laurent, or the Main, and a place where generations of people have flocked to get smoked meat since 1928.
The menu board and tables haven't changed in more than 20 years. Big hunks of spiced and herbed beef - marinated for 10 days, smoked for eight hours then steamed - lie in the front window. People stand in lines outside the noisy, crowded and narrow deli, even on the most frigid of days, just to get their Schwartz's fix. There are anglos, francos, Italians, Morrocans, a family from Boston. Pictures of celebrities adorn the walls, from Tina Turner to Céline Dion and Jean Béliveau.
The creative team behind Schwartz's The Musical, the musical comedy duo Bowser and Blue, based the production on a book about the world-renowned deli by Montreal journalist, Bill Brownstein. They've created a love story and, like Brownstein, focused on the fight to keep a Toronto businessman from buying Schwartz's and franchising it, something akin to selling off the beloved Montreal Canadiens to Harold Ballard.
So even if the tunes sound a little recycled, the lyrics a bit schmaltzy, I suspect audiences in Montreal will eat this right up ... including the pickle.
-- by Margo Kelly
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