JCC event pays homage to Broadway’s legendary family, the Hammersteins

Oscar Andrew Hammerstein

On Saturday, Jan. 14, the Jewish Community Center and the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival will host Oscar Andrew Hammerstein, the great grandson of Oscar Hammerstein II and author of “The Hammersteins: A Musical Theatre Family.” He will share stories of the legendary Broadway family whose story began in 1864 when Oscar Hammerstein I emigrated to the United States.

After becoming a successful cigar merchant, Hammerstein I built many theaters and turned Times Square into the theater capital of the world. His sons, Willie and Arthur, carried on the tradition and nurture such talents as Will Rogers, W.C. Fields, Al Jolson, Harry Houdini and Charlie Chaplin. Willie’s son, Oscar II, became one of the most successful lyricist of all time, writing the story and words to the Broadway shows such as “Showboat,” “Oklahoma,” “South Pacific,” “Carousel,” “The King and I,” and “The Sound of Music.”

The event at the JCC will include performances from local professionals Johanna Elkana, April Strellinger, Troy P. Turnipseed and Jeffrey Wright, who will sing excerpts from the legendary Hammerstein musicals. Edward Coffield, Production Manager at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, will direct the entertainment and Ed Reggi will serve as the emcee.

The event, entitled “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning Evening,” is co-chaired by Eileen Edelman, Ed Reggi, Judi Scissors and Regina Shapiro. Tickets are $75 or $125 for patrons. Patrons will receive an autographed copy of Hammerstein’s book.

Tables of 10 are $750 or $1,250. The evening includes passed appetizers, a Carnegie Deli-style dinner buffet (complete with Dr. Brown’s soda), the performance and an opportunity to purchase the book for $35 and have it autographed.

Tickets may be purchased by calling Kimmi Levinson at 314-442-3109 or emailing [email protected].

The event is part of the J’s Culture Club, a committee of community members who suggest ways to enhance existing cultural offerings at the J. For more information about joining the group, contact Ericka Zoll, Director of Development at 314-442-3189 or [email protected].