Les Miz and Monty Python’s Spamalot could not be more different and seemingly have nothing in common, but locally, they most certainly do because both musicals mount the stage next season at The Jewish Community Center.
The international hit musical Les Misérables opens the 2013-2014 season at the White Theatre; Monty Python’s Spamalot will close it; and all sorts of performing art variety will take place in between, Krista Blackwood, JCC director of cultural arts announced.
“Les Mis and Monty Spamalot are big shows, and they’ll make great bookends to a wonderful season that includes new directors bringing their visions to the White Theatre stage,” Blackwood said.
For the first time, the White Theatre is inviting guest directors to oversee productions on the main stage at the Jewish Community Center. Veteran director Mark Swezey will take on the bookend shows, she said. Each of the other three productions will feature a different creative team.
Tim Bair, producing artistic director for Theatre in the Park directs Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs in January. Barb Nichols directs Sondheim’s Company in February, with music direction by Martha Risser. Darren Sextro undertakes directorship for the stage version of To Kill a Mockingbird in April.
“We’re pleased to welcome these well-respected directors to our facility, and we look forward to a vibrant community theater season under their talented leadership,” Blackwood said.
In addition to the community theatre season, which involves volunteer actors from all over the metropolitan area, the White Theatre also plays host to a Visiting Artist series.
“We have everything from Hanukkah Goblins to Jewish Rock to Yiddish Vaudeville this season,” Blackwood said.
In November, the JCC will partner with Paul Mesner Puppets to bring the world premiere adaptation of the children’s book Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, by Eric Kimmel, to the White Theatre stage.
In December, Ben Sidran, Emmy-award winning pianist, producer, singer and host of NPR’s landmark jazz series Jazz Alive, will perform some of his best music and speak about his latest book, There Was A Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream, which traces Jewish influences on American song.
In March, Kansas City native Shane Bertram Baker will bring his one-man Yiddish vaudeville show to the stage, and the Visiting Artist series will close out in April with Jewish rocker Rick Recht.
“We are looking forward to a wonderful live performing arts season here at the White Theatre, with a little something for everyone.” Blackwood said.
Les Miz explores a nation in the grip of revolution, where convict Jean Valjean is on the run. Hunted relentlessly by the policeman Javert for breaking his parole, he must leave his past behind and keep his vow to raise the young orphaned Cosette. But with revolution in the air and Javert closing in, Jean Valjean has no choice but to fight for his life and sacrifice everything to protect the people he loves.
Les Misérables, adapted by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, based on Victor Hugo’s epic novel of the same name, directed by Mark Swezey, musical direction by Laura Van Leeuwen. Rated PG Nov. 9, 14, 16, 21, 23 at 7:30pm; Nov. 10, 17, 24 at 2pm.
Paul Mesner Puppets presents Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, based on a book by Eric Kimmel.
What are the poor villagers to do? The holiday-hating, hill-dwelling hobgoblins are determined to ruin yet another Hanukkah for them. Every year the beasties snuff out the menorah candles, destroy the dreidels, and pitch the potato latkes on the floor. But these wicked wet blankets never counted on someone as clever as Hershel of Ostropol showing up.
Using his wits and a few props–pickles, eggs, and a dreidel, will Hershel manage to outwit all the creepy critters and break the spell? Join us for this fabulously creative adaptation of the ancient Hanukkah story in which the Syrians forbade the Jews to worship as they wanted.
Rated G and set for five performances, Nov. 29 at 11am; Nov. 30 at 6 pm; Dec. 1 at 2pm; Dec. 2 at 10am; Dec. 3 at 10am.
There Was A Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream, by Ben Sidran comes next. Rated PG. Dec. 5 at 2pm
Although best known in some circles for writing Steve Miller’s hit song “Space Cowboy,” Ben Sidran is more widely recognized as the host of National Public Radio’s landmark jazz series Jazz Alive, which received a Peabody Award, and as the host of VH-1 television’s New Visions series, which received the Ace Award for best music series.
Hear this Emmy-award winning pianist, producer, singer and composer perform some of his best music and speak about his latest book, There Was A Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream,, which traces Jewish influences on American song.
Brighton Beach Memoirs, by Neil Simon, directed by Tim Bair comes next for JCC theater fans.
There are holes in his shoes, war on the horizon and liver for dinner, but 15-year-old Eugene Jerome would rather think about the Yankees. And girls. Surrounded by his overworked mother and father, his wayward brother and a whole houseful of relatives, Eugene navigates the minefield of adolescence in Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical play. A heartfelt love letter to his own Jewish childhood, Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs reminds us that family is the one constant in the crazy journey of life. Rated PG
Jan. 11, 16, 18 at 7:30pm; Jan. 12, 19 at 2pm;
Next for The Jewish Community center, the hit Sondheim musical, Company comes to The White Theatre stage.
The kaleidoscope of sounds and pulsing rhythms of New York City underscore this landmark show, considered by many to be the first modern musical. Bobby is celebrating his 35th birthday surrounded by married couples.
His friends are trying to convince him to settle down and get married, but he enjoys the company of a parade of eligible ladies too much to consider marriage. As Bobby explores the relationships of his “couple” friends, he considers their problems but also ponders the value of commitment.
Is he ready to take the big step? Only Bobby can find the answer in this witty and honest examination of matrimony. The brilliant energetic score contains many of Stephen Sondheim’s best-known songs, including “You Could Drive a Person Crazy,” “Side by Side by Side,” and “Being Alive.”
Company, book by George Furth, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; directed by Barb Nichols and musical direction by Martha Risser runs Feb. 8, 13, 15, 20, 22 at 7:30pm; Feb. 9, 16, 23 at 2pm; Rated PG-13
Shane Bertram Baker next presents The Big Bupkis – A Gentile’s Guide to Yiddish Vaudeville.
Shane Bertram Baker, unquestionably the biggest star in Yiddish vaudeville today, returns to his hometown of Kansas City to tread the boards at the White Theatre. His mega-hit sensation “The Big Bupkis! A Complete Gentile’s Guide to Yiddish Vaudeville” is the most talked-about, highly praised, successful and critically acclaimed Yiddish show in recent memory. An irreverent yet loving survey of some of the highlights and lowlights of Yiddish Vaudeville, the show includes cheap jokes, magic, ukulele music, hypnotism, unpleasant stories about Sophie Tucker, a Yiddish bullfight poem and a live, onstage beheading.
Performance dates: March 8 at 7:30pm and March 9 at 2pm. Rated: PG
To Kill A Mockingbird the iconic book about racial prejudice in the South and one man’s fight for justice always attracts large audiences. Harper Lee’s book speaks to all prejudice even though its focus is racial.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was adapted adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel. Darren Sextro directs.
Set in Alabama during the Great Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows the journey of Jem and Scout Finch, whose father has been appointed to defend Tom Robinson, a black man framed for a crime he didn’t commit. As the trial progresses, Jem and Scout witness their community in a tense tug of war between justice and racism. This timeless classic compels us to take an honest look at our nation’s past and our moral responsibility to each other.
Rated PG (due to adult themes of racism and sexual violence), the show runs April 5, 10, 12 at 7:30pm; April 6, 13 at 2pm.
Rick Recht performs next at JCC.
Are you ready to rock? Rick Recht’s name is synonymous with Jewish rock music; he has reinvented the sometimes boring synagogue tunes into inspiring tunes that get your blood pumping and your hands clapping. Rick’s high-energy performance will have you singing and dancing in the aisles. Rated G April 27 at 5:30pm.
Finally, get ready for a big dose of silliness, irreverence, and non-stop laughs when Monty Python’s Spamalot gallops into the White Stage. Based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the show currently enjoys widespread success.
Monty Python’s Spamalot is the outrageous musical comedy lovingly ripped off from the film classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Spamalot tells the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they embark on their quest for the Holy Grail. Flying cows, killer rabbits, taunting Frenchmen and show-stopping musical numbers (“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” “Find Your Grail”) are just a few of the reasons audiences everywhere eat up Spamalot.
Monty Python’s Spamalot, book & lyrics by Eric Idle and music by John Du Prez adapted from the original screenplay by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin. Mark Swezey directs.
Rated PG, the show runs July 12, 17, 19, 24, 26 at 7:30pm; and
July 13, 20, 27 at 2pm.
“The mission of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City is to enrich our diverse community by cultivating an inclusive environment built upon Jewish values, heritage and culture. We offer programs of excellence that enhance wellness, meaning and joy from generation to generation,” she said.
For further information, contact Blackwood at 913-327-8073 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit jcckc.org or call the main office (913) 327-8000.