Jewish Books Cooking, a new musical based on Jewish-themed children's books and created and directed by award-winning composer and author Elizabeth Swados, premieres at The JCC in Manhattan today, May 20th and plays throughout New York City through the end of the month and into June.
The new production is based on a selection of popular children's books, with a group of young, professionally trained actors interpreting selected scenes with original musical arrangements in vaudeville-style mini-skits.
Jewish Books Cooking premiered at The JCC in Manhattan at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. today, May 20. Other public performances will take place at the Center for Jewish History at 11:30 a.m. on June 3; at Kings Bay Y at 5 p.m. on June 6; at Congregation Beth Elohim at 11 a.m. on June 10th; and at The Carousel in Bryant Park at 1 p.m. on June 17th. Tickets are free and information is at www.jewishbookscooking.org. Tickets are available by calling 646.505.4444 or visiting www.jccmanhattan.org.
Among the popular books featured in the production are Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to be Kosher, by Laurel Snyder; Mr. Mentch, by The Mamas; and, Beautiful Yetta – The Yiddish Chicken, by Daniel Pinkwater.
"I think I've read every Jewish children's book ever written," said Swados, who has been nominated five times for a Tony Award. "They are hot, and they rock. They cook. There are no limitations, and anything can happen. To transfer that to the stage takes the magic of children's books to a new level of imagination and fun.
"The books that I selected for Jewish Books Cooking make me laugh, have imagination, have characters that talented young actors can play, and have stories about life that are good to know. Books can be transformative, and these are. They will be as alive on the stage as they are on the pages of the books themselves.
"This is really good theater and anyone will come away from it with the magic of these books," said Swados, adding that it is most appropriate for children aged up to 10 and their families.
A team accomplished in stage productions in New York and elsewhere joins Jewish Books Cooking, including Sam Willmott (music director), Trevor Bachman (actor), Rachael Duddy (actor), Luke Marinkovich (actor), Andrew Martin (actor), Tess Niedermeyer (actor), Tessa Skara (actor), Rebecca Keren (general manager and producer), Michael Ulreich (stage manager), and Molly Deale (costume designer).
Elizabeth Swados (Creator/Composer/Director) Perhaps best known for her Broadway and international smash hit Runaways, Elizabeth Swados has composed, written, and directed for over 30 years. Her works include the Obie Award-winning Trilogy at La MaMa; Alice at the Palace with Meryl Streep at the New York Shakespeare Theater Festival; Groundhog, which was optioned by Milos Forman for a film; and a variety of Biblical musical adaptations.
Her work has been performed on Broadway, off-Broadway, at La MaMa, Brooklyn Academy Of Music, Carnegie Hall, and locations all over the world. Recent productions include The Reality Show, about the trials and tribulations of college life in NYC, performed by students at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and in Abu Dhabi; Marat/Sade at NYU/Tisch; From the Fire – The UK MTM Award winner for Best Music/New Musical/Production at The Edinburgh Fringe; Revolting Rhymes at The Lucille Lortel Theater; Books Cook! at The Atlantic Theater Company; Kaspar Hauser at The Flea Theater; Atonement, a theatrical oratorio presented by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; an adaptation of The Dybbuk at NYU/Tisch; Spider Operas at PS122 (with Mabou Mines); Political Subversities, a political revue for two Culture Project festivals as well as Joe's Pub; and a workshop of Dance of Desire, a translation of Lorca's Yerma by Caridad Svich.