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2018-09-07 digital edition
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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


September 7, 2018  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Theater in the Rye offers kosher slice of Broadway

J.D. Salinger gave us Catcher in the Rye and some unknown culinary genius came up with pastrami on rye, but it takes a rye sense of humor to come up with this one: Jo-El’s Theater in the Rye.

Step right up and order your tickets quickly because there is seating for only 100 at St. Petersburg’s latest entertainment venue on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 4:30 p.m. when Jo-El’s Kosher Deli & Marketplace is transformed into the Theater in the Rye for a production of Tops from Flops: An Exuberant Tour of Musical Theater.

“We will have theater-style seating and a backdrop on a wall for the performance,” explained Sharon Goetz, daughter of Joel and Ellen Goetz, owners of Jo-El’s. There will also be a raised platform, sound system, special lighting and a piano to accommodate a trio of cantors who will perform famous Broadway songs.

The event will include a wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres.

The Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties is assisting with marketing for the event. “We like the idea of Jewish arts and entertainment and are happy to see things like this going on,” said Maxine Kaufman, the Federation’s director of arts, culture, and education.

It will be no mean feat to turn Jo-El’s into a theater, navigating around shelves chock full of kosher food items and wine, a butcher shop and deli counter. Some tables, chairs and hot dog carts will definitely have to be moved, Sharon said. The store, at 2619 23rd Ave. N. in St. Petersburg, is tucked away in a district where warehouses are common, but the local Jewish community, as well as non-Jews, have been coming to the place for years to get their kosher fix, and yes, even a pastrami on rye.

The idea for the Theater in the Rye was conceived one day when Cantor Riselle Bain, formerly of Congregation Schaarai Zedek in Tampa and now spiritual leader at Temple Israel of Highlands County, stopped by Jo-Els, as she often does, for chopped liver.

Bain chatted about her Tops from Flops original production that she put on earlier in the summer in Sarasota.

“Sharon said, ‘Can we do that here?’” Bain recalled. “They decided to make it the first Theater in the Rye production and I am very excited about it.”

While Sharon says her dad, Joel, came up with the name Theater in the Rye, she takes credit for the concept of “doing fun things” at Jo-Els “as a way of giving back to the community.”

She hopes this is just the beginning of events Jo-El’s will host. “They will not all necessarily be theater. We have a musical group interested in performing, and we would like to do food tastings, wine tastings, poetry readings. We are looking to be more part of the community,” she said. “Entertainment and food and alcohol and community. You can’t ask for anything more.”

During the Tops from Flops show, Bain will narrate and join Cantor Jonathan Schultz of Congregation B’nai Israel in St. Petersburg and Cantor Marci Vitkus of Venice in singing Broadway songs.

The tunes are by famous composers such as Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers and Lorenzo Hart, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter and George M. Cohan – all but the latter two Jewish.

“This is music that everybody knows and loves, but many do not know they were in some of Broadway’s biggest financial or critical flops,” Bain said. The narration will include information on the shows, who was in them and the reviews they got, she added.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Jo-El’s or online at Complimentary refreshments will be served to all ticket holders. For more information, contact Sharon Goetz at (727) 321-3847.

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