Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Chicago

Cooking with Bubbie
MadKap Productions / Orchard Street Productions
Review by Ruth Smerling

Also see Richard's review of School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play

Jan Slavin and Carla Gordon
Photo Courtesy of MadKap Productions
Theaters are final opening again! Hallelujah! The Skokie Theatre's MadKap Productions, after having to close its doors in March 2020, due to the scourge of the pandemic, returns full tilt fun with Jay Kholos' Cooking with Bubbie, making its Chicago premiere before it goes to New York, starring duel divas: the award-winning cabaret chanteuse Carla Gordon and comedienne Jan Slavin, who alternately play the role of the rock of the Jewish family, Yiddish-speaking historian and role model, the quintessential "Bubbie." MadKap Productions is producing Cooking with Bubbie in conjunction with Orchard Street Productions and it is written by founder and President Jay Kholos. Kholos' other works include the Off-Broadway hit musical A Stoop on Orchard Street as well as production and direction of Golda's Balcony, Old Jews Telling Jokes and Wiesenthal.

Bubbie is the endearing word for Jewish grandmothers. The grandmother, just like Tevya tells us in Fiddler on the Roof, plays a very important role in Jewish tradition. This Bubbie, though clad in an apron, support hose, and comfortable shoes, is backed up by a chorus of dancers and a vaudeville-style performer who becomes the male hero in all the stories she's preserved since the time of the shtetl in Eastern Europe. Imagine having a Las Vegas revue with sequins and comics in your kitchen while you prepare meals for endless and sumptuous celebrations.

Bubbie is the star of "Cooking with Bubbie," a popular TV show. Think of a cross between Rachel Ray in 20 years, wearing a babushka, and Molly Picon. Along with her recipes come stories about her family, friends, and reasons why these recipes she shares are so special. To help, she has her right hand, the stage manager J.T. (Andrew Pond). He gets the cameras rolling and gives cues and writes everything down on a trusty clipboard. Pond magically morphs from the role of stage manager to multiple characters, each time emerging completely different.

Bubbie turns up the gas with the beautiful "Bubbettes" (Jessica Lauren Fisher, Jeri Hart, Connor Norton, Jessica Surprenant), three showgirls who, when given dialogue, seem to have borrowed their dialogue from the chorus girls of Guys and Dolls. Together they perform 14 original and hilarious songs including "Schmaltz," "A Little Nosh," and "Shattered Glass." They sing and dance, Bubbie tells stories, and together they schtick it to an audience doubled over laughing and dabbing their eyes. With every sweet bite there's a little bitter thrown in too. Nevertheless, they're having a wonderful time.

Of course she indulges in a little nepotism, as her wonderful nephew Sidney Lipshitz (Wilson Hicken) accompanies everyone on the piano, playing everything from Steely Dan to classical. By the end of the show, everyone will hunger to be a grandchild again. Who knew Bubbie was a star!

Cooking with Bubbie runs through August 22, 2021, at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Avenue, Chicago IL. For reservations and information on the exciting upcoming season, phone 847-677-7761 or visit The theater is 20 minutes from the city limits and can be reached easily by CTA #97 and PACE busses #210, #225, #226, #290 and #413.

To protect the artists and other guests, bring your masks. You will need to provide proof of vaccination at the door. For the safety and comfort of guests this summer, audiences in the theatre will be limited to 50 people. In addition, a new state-of-the-art air filtration system has been installed and MadKap productions has implemented new protocols for guest check-in to eliminate crowded lines in the lobby.