Shlock Rock Broadway parodies are a mixed bag

Now that all those Christmas carols are over, try a little “Shlock Rock.”

It’s hard to know what to make of Lenny Solomon’s “Shlock Rock Almost on Broadway,” 10th in the “Shlock” series, according to the press release. Sure it’s funny, but it’s serious, too. And, although it has deeply religious moments, one can’t help wondering if a song called “Tekia” (as in the shofar call), done to Leonard Bernstein’s “Maria” out of “West Side Story,” isn’t a little sacrilegious as well.

It’s also hard to pinpoint the target audience for this CD. Younger kids don’t have the Broadway background to get the humor of the songs. Adults will get the joke but may not have the patience to take some of the Sunday school lessons that Solomon slips into the lyrics. Maybe preteens? Would it make a good — if cheap — bar or bat mitzvah gift?

Recorded in Israel, the album is nicely produced, with full orchestra and a pretty good chorus, and Solomon is an engaging singer and a talented writer of song parodies. He certainly has a sense of humor. From the liner pictures, he looks sort of like a pudgy dentist, but, hey, so does Eugene Levy and he’s making a pretty good career for himself.

But assumptions are dangerous when dealing with this material. For example, what can be more trivial than an ABBA song? And what more deeply symbolic than the story of the sacrifice of Isaac? Yet they are paired in a parody of “SOS” from “Mama Mia,” renamed “Passed the Test.”

Most successful are the numbers where the material matches the music. My personal favorites were “Succot Nights,” to “Summer Nights” from “Grease” and “Come ‘Round He’s Making a Boat,” the story of Noah sung to “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” from “Guys and Dolls.” “Do You Know Your Hebrew Name?” to “There is Nothing Like a Dame” from “South Pacific” works almost as well.

But “To Maariv,” to “Tomorrow” from “Annie” is borderline offensive — even to a Reform Jew.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, but what this collection of song parodies is seems somewhat less definitive. It has its moments, but “Midwife” to “Midnight” from “Cats” (or is that Katz?) probably isn’t one of them.

“Shlock Rock Almost on Broadway” is available at bob and bob. $18.98. Information: (800) 233-9494, or [email protected].