JCC grand opening features Second City

Ready for a musical ode to the online Jewish dating service JDate? How about a visit to the country’s first Thai-Kosher fusion restaurant? Those are just two of the topics considered in Second City’s “Jewsical! The Musical,” which will be on stage March 6 and 7 at the grand opening of the newly renovated Staenberg Family Complex Arts and Education Building on the I.E. Millstone campus of the Jewish Community Center in Creve Coeur.

“We wanted to bring in an entertaining group that would have a broad appeal to all ages – but something different than the J normally does,” said Lisa Liebschutz, director of events for the Jewish Community Center. “Second City is a well-known comedy group, and when I went to their web site, there was ‘Jewsical! The Musical.’ It just seemed perfect.”

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Originally directed by Sheldon Patinkin — one of Second City’s founding members — the 90-minute spoof combines classic scenes from the Chicago-based troupe’s archives with new material created by the next generation of the comedy world’s best and brightest. This is the first time the show has been performed in St. Louis.

Liebschutz planned the evening performance to reflect the celebratory nature of the grand opening of the building, and added the reception before the performance and dessert with the cast after the show. “We scheduled the ‘matinee encore’ on Sunday so we could offer it at a lower price that everyone could afford,” she said. “Also, we are confident that Saturday night will sell out, and the second show gives more people an opportunity to get in.”

Anticipation about the new performance and banquet space runs high, noted Liebschutz. The renovated Arts and Education building officially opens on March 8. The building houses classrooms, theater space, childcare, adult day services, an art gallery and meeting rooms. “And don’t forget that two beautiful new pools will be opening,” added Liebschutz, “as well as an innovative outdoor playground for kids.”

A series of special events are planned after the opening weekend. “We have an entire year’s worth of activities connected with the Arts and Education Building that tie in to the different areas,” Liebschutz said. “We want to be sure we honor and make mention of all the departments.”

Here are events planned for March` and April. Many of these events require advance reservations. For more information, see www.jccstl.com or call 314-432-5700.

Jewish rock musician Rick Recht will be on hand to open the Family Center, a space dedicated to families of children 5 and under. The “Simply Shabbat” program, from 5 to 7 p.m. on March 11, will help families make Shabbat an amazing experience even for toddlers. In addition to Recht’s appearance, the event will include interactive programs, demonstrations and hands-on activities. Dinner is included. Admission is $7 for members and $10 for non-members.

On April 3, the New Jewish Theatre will present a Bat Mitzvah Cabaret featuring Nancy Kranzberg and her band. The cabaret will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the new Marvin and Harlene Wool Studio Theater. Tickets, available at www.brownpapertickets.com, are $75 for sponsor recognition, $50 for table seating, and $36 for theater seating. For more information, contact Kathleen Sitzer at 314-442-3257.

At 7 p.m. on April 12, Marcia and Warren Goldberg will hold an evening of music and conversation in the Carl and Helene Mirowitz Performing Arts Center. A native St. Louisan, Marcia will speak about her life in the world of musical entertainment everywhere from Gaslight Square to the Playboy Club to cruise ships. The program will include a song that Marvin Hamlisch wrote just for Marcia. Warren, a member of the St. Louis Symphony, will bring his 300-year-old bass and will use it to recount the story of his life in music. The program includes dessert. Tickets are $10.

The Early Childhood Center will hold an open house from 7 to 9 p.m. on April 15. Diane W. Frankenstein — educational consultant, author and lecturer – will speak on “The Art of Conversational Reading.” The author of “Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read,” Frankenstein will share important tips with parents and grandparents, and guests will be able to tour the Early Childhood Center. Parents and adults of all ages are welcome. Tickets are $5 for individual members, $7 for members of the public. Couples who are members get in for $8; $10 for non-members.

On April 28, an open house will be held at the Adult Day Center. Dr. Ellen Binder will speak at 7 p.m. on medical care for older adults. Dr. Binder provides medical care to older adults in both long-term care and out-patient settings. She also works with patients in the Older Adult Assessment program located at the Washington University Center for Advanced Medicine. Light refreshments will be served. Admission is free.

“When people see the renovated Arts and Education building, they are not going to believe what they are looking at,” said Liebschutz. “I remember talking to Michael Staenberg at the opening of the fitness center. I said how beautiful it was, and he told me the Arts and Education building would be even better.”

At the time, Liebschutz was skeptical. Not any more. She said, “It is stunning.”

Jewsical! The Musical

WHAT: Second City’s hilarious celebration of Jewish life and culture

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. March 6 and 2 p.m. March 7

WHERE: Carl and Helene Mirowitz Performing Arts and Banquet Center in the Staenberg Family Complex Arts and Education Building on the I.E. Millstone campus of the Jewish Community Center in Creve Coeur

COST: $100 on March 6, which includes hors d’oeuvres, the performance and a dessert reception with the cast; $25 on March 7

TICKETS: At www.brownpapertickets.com or at the front desk of the Staenberg Family Complex Fitness & Wellness Building

MORE INFO: 314-432-5700 or www.jccstl.com