Lipa Schmeltzer Reaches For Broadway and Beyond

Controversial Hasidic Superstar Breaks Expectations

Superstar: After producing his Broadway show, Hasidic music sensation Lipa Schmeltzer is promoting his new album “Dus Pintele — The Hidden Spark” and attending college in the evenings.
Courtesy of Lipa Schmeltzer
Superstar: After producing his Broadway show, Hasidic music sensation Lipa Schmeltzer is promoting his new album “Dus Pintele — The Hidden Spark” and attending college in the evenings.

By Frimet Goldberger

Published January 23, 2014, issue of January 24, 2014.

(page 4 of 7)

This was a first, for an Orthodox Jew to be on Broadway. Do you see yourself as a trailblazer?

The beauty of this is that I attracted people from Monroe [N.Y.], Lakewood [N.J.], Brooklyn… I had someone fly out from Toronto for his son’s birthday for this. I attracted people of all kinds. It’s the first time that I introduced it to this kind of community on such a level. To have a whole band onstage with dancers and do the real moves they do, you know, in Hollywood. I am pushing the envelope by discussing things people in these communities don’t generally discuss: going to therapy, the rabbis’ flaws, etc. But I am still keeping some boundaries, like no women on the show. Not that I believe God has a problem with that, but there’s a comfort zone and if I go out of that comfort zone, I am catering to a different audience.

In college they once brought down a Broadway producer and he heard me sing, and he said, “You know, you could really go out there.” It used to bother me that I could go out and make it in Hollywood. A., in a moment of honesty, I don’t know if I’d get to Hollywood; millions of talents don’t make it. B., I have a clientele of hundreds of young teenagers that are in a sort of jail — they don’t get the opportunity to get this entertainment. For many years they put me through a guilt trip for bringing that in, but that now turned into positive energy. Yes, I bring in entertainment. I need to cater to them and stay strong.

**So you want to push the boundaries, but you still want to remain in your comfort zone. Do you ever see yourself at a point where you can push it further and bring a woman onto the stage — perhaps not to dance, but to be a part of the scene? **

As of this moment, as I see myself, I don’t think I would do it. Between me and God, there may be ways around it.

What’s your takeaway form the show?

I want to bring into the community a lot of theater. I realized onstage the real power of theater. Lately I’m much more positive, but I still look at a negative letter here and there. Something changed in me. I woke up the next morning of the show, and people were sending me criticism on WhatsApp. Whenever I saw something negative, I signed off. Of course there are critics in the professional world. But for me to continue and to do the things I do, I need to focus on the positive.

Playing a therapist, I told “Max” to stop focusing on the negativity. So when I was sitting in front of 1,500 people saying that, I really internalized it.

I would like to talk a little about your new album, “Dus Pintele — The Hidden Spark.” Can you explain what it’s about?

My new album is a lot of cutting-edge new tracks and new messages. I cater to a lot of people who don’t understand Yiddish, and it can be contradicting. I have people often asking me, “Who do you cater to? If you talk Yiddish, you cater to a different audience. Why do you give the message you give? Focus to be a different Lipa than you are. And if you don’t want to do that, go all English and give different messages.”

The answer is, I do the kind of art I connect to. And the truth is that a lot of people speak Yiddish who are with the same mindset as me. And that’s the people I cater to. And that’s only thousands upon thousands of people, and that’s good enough. There are a lot of modern people who listen to me like people listen to Italian singers.



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