CRC’s Haiti relief concert; Second City at JCC opening

“Jewsical! The Musical” — performed by Second City, Chicago’s world-famous comedy troupe — will be the highlight of the grand opening of the Jewish Community Center Arts and Education Building. The weekend of March 6 and 7 will resonate with wonderful happenings but a highlight will be “Jewsical! The Musical,” which will be performed Saturday evening, March 6 and again on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Saturday celebration begins at 6:30 p.m. and will include substantial hors d’oeuvres, the show and a dessert reception with the cast. Ticket prices are $100 per person for the evening but only $25 for the Sunday matinee. For tickets, visit or purchase them in the lobby of the Staenberg Family Complex at #2 Millstone Campus Drive.

The Second City performance (remember Elaine May and Mike Nichols of early Second City days?) will be held in the new Carl and Helene Mirowitz Performing Arts and Banquet Center in the newly renovated building on the I.E. Millstone Jewish Community Campus. The arts and education building will also have classrooms, theater space, childcare, adult day care services, an art gallery and meeting rooms. “I am so pleased that Carl and I are able to donate the Performing Arts and Banquet Center to the J and the St. Louis community. We are proud to support it with this facility, which will serve future generations.” said Helene Mirowitz.

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Lisa Liebschutz, who is running the whole shebang at the J, said invitations for the weekend were not yet in the mail, so don’t fret if you have not received yours. However, when you do, you better rush to get tickets as seating is limited and a sold-out house is expected.

* STEPHANIE RIVEN, founder and executive director of the COCA (Center of Creative Arts) for the past 22 years, will receive the Arts and Education Council’s Lifetime Achievement at the St. Louis Arts Awards celebration on Monday, Jan. 25 at the Chase Park Plaza. “Lifetime Achievement Award” is so appropriate for Stephanie, who has created a vibrant organization — bringing COCA from a small endeavor with a budget of $80,000 to the fifth largest multidisciplinary arts center in the country with a budget of $5 million.

From 40 children in the first classes in 1987, COCA now serves 50,000 people annually through classes, performances and exhibitions. Stephanie, the miracle worker, has helped to raise more than $30 million over the past decade. It’s not just numbers she has created either — it is quality particularly in the dance program, which has produced some real stars now in prestigious dance companies. The sad part of this story is that Stephanie is retiring from COCA in June and will take a consulting job with an arts organization in New York.

To congratulate her and to wish her well, as well as the other award recipients, contact the Arts and Education Council for dinner reservations on the 25th at 314-289-4003 or online at

Among Stephanie’s accomplishment was the creation of COCA’s Family Theatre Series.

Still going strong, CREOLE FOR KIDZ will be the upcoming performance for families as part of that program. Grammy Award winning ‘Creole King” Terrance Simien and his band will play three concerts on Friday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m, Saturday Jan. 30 at 3 and 5 p.m. and Sunday, Jan 31 at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Simien, the zydeco master, will have you and the kids dancing in the aisles. For tickets at $14 to $18, call 314-725- 5555.

* Everyone, almost without exception, has been touched and moved by the terrible earthquake and its effect on the people of Haiti. I have tried to contribute online to an organization dedicated to helping the Haitians, and either due to my computer incompetence or to their jammed website, I was unable to complete the transaction. So here is an easy and pleasurable way to do it.

Central Reform Congregation is presenting a benefit concert for Haiti on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the synagogue. My daughter, Leslie, has recruited a large and impressive collection of outstanding entertainers who will sing and act their hearts out to raise money for the relief needed in Haiti now and in the months and years to come. Leslie, the show’s producer, told me that among the many artists joining her and the cantorial staff at CRC are David and Sara Surkamp (of Pavlov’s Dog), Ed Reggi and the Paper Slip Theatre, the incomparable Robert Fishbone, composer-baritone Ricardo Souza Melo, mandolin and banjo player Will Soll with bass player Shlomo and on and on. All proceeds will benefit Med and Food for Kids and American Jewish World Service — both organizations now doing relief work in Haiti. The suggested minimum contribution is $10 and additional donations are gratefully accepted. For those who are unable to attend the benefit, send your check to CRC, 5020 Waterman Boulevard, St. Louis 63108 and earmark it for Haitian relief.