“SOUTH FLORIDA IS REALLY LIKE A SECOND HOME FOR ME,” SAYS FAMED ISRAELI SINGER DUDU FISHER, WHO RETURNS TO THE INTIMATE AVENTURA ARTS & CULTURAL CENTER FOR SIX PERFORMANCES STARTING MARCH 16TH THROUGH MARCH 26TH.
Dudu Fisher, who was born and raised in Israel, spends his time between Israel and the United States, where he performs extensively. He started his career as a cantor in Israel studying under some of the great cantors of the previous generation, and at only twenty-two years old, he was asked to become the cantor at the Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv.
“As a child, my grandmother always encouraged me to sing. She always wanted me to sing for her in Yiddish, to sing the songs and melodies of the old country. Learning those melodies and emotions of that generation really helped me to become a cantor at such a young age,” explains Dudu of his childhood. But Fisher was never satiated by the melodies of a single time or place. Music for Fisher was universal, it didn’t need to be specific to religion or time periods; it had the power to connect all of these elements. Years later, while still one of the most sought after cantors in Israel, Fisher was in London and went to see the play Les Miserables. That show changed his life.
In 1986, the international producers of Les Miserables announced a production in Hebrew to run in Israel. Dudu knew he needed to land a role, and his complete lack of theatre experience did not deter him at all. Fisher got the lead role in the Israeli production, and two years later while performing as part of a Royal Command event for the Queen of England, Dudu was discovered by the famed British theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh. Mackintosh was so taken by Fisher’s performance for the Queen, that he invited Fisher to take the lead role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway, an opportunity that launched Dudu’s career way beyond the confines of the synagogue and the Jewish community.
As Fisher’s star began to rise, Jewish communities worldwide sought Fisher for performances and extended cantorial work. Fans saw Fisher as a symbol of hope and pride that someone with serious talent can succeed in America while still honoring the Judaism they held dear. To this day, Fisher remains the only Broadway actor to hold a contract releasing him from the obligation to perform on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.
“My time on Broadway was unforgettable,” remembers Fisher, “I learned so much on Broadway, that it’s hard to really envision my voice, my life, my career without that experience. I spent so much time in the States at that time. I developed so many lasting relationships then, friends I still have today. People come from all over to see a show on Broadway, so I have friends all over the States from that time.”
Many of those friends helped grow Dudu’s career throughout the States in the years that followed, and while Dudu may still be best know for his role as Jean Valjean, in
South Florida Mr. Fisher has established a special relationship with the community that goes far beyond that career highlight.
In 2009, Mr. Fisher’s promoters Gelb Promotions teamed up with South Florida’s PBS affiliate WPBT to create Dudu’s award winning TV special “In Concert from Israel.” The show features Dudu in his home country of Israel performing an unmatched repertoire of Yiddish songs, Ladino songs, Hebrew songs and Broadway songs in the majestic ruins of the BeitSha’an natural amphitheater. Almost immediately after the show’s release on WPBT in South Florida, Mr. Fisher’s career catapulted out of the synagogue spaces in Miami, Boca, and West Palm, and onto the major stages across Florida, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Maryland, Philadelphia, and Toronto. The TV show has aired over a thousand times nationwide with South Florida PBS stations leading the charge with nearly a dozen airings every year. As a result, Mr. Fisher’s audience has grown beyond the confines of the Jewish community and has connected his inspired repertoire to a devoted PBS audience that spans cultural and religious backgrounds.
Since the release of “In Concert from Israel,” Dudu Fisher has packed the Broward Center for the Performing Arts multiple times and sold out the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach four years in a row. In 2014, Fisher and his promoters decided to try something new by creating a series of intimate shows in Aventura, FL where he could really connect with his fans through both the songs and the stories of his journey from the synagogues of Jerusalem to the stages of Broadway. With just his voice and piano accompaniment, Mr. Fisher sold out every night at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center. “People were coming up to me after the concert telling me it was the best show of mine that they have ever seen. For years I have been doing these big concerts in Florida with a big band and even with a string section and lots of production, but my fans really loved the closeness of the theater in Aventura and the intimacy of just voice and piano. I loved it, they loved it, so we had to do it again,” says Dudu of last year’s performances.
This year between March 16 and 26, 2015, fans can expect that same intimacy and closeness from the repertoire and the stories Dudu is putting together. Mr. Fisher also says that there will be some additional production elements to really make the songs and stories come alive for his devoted South Florida fans. Tickets for the six-night run of concerts at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center are on sale now.