J*Fest to Launch First Annual Jewish Theater Festival, 5/12

J*Fest to Launch First Annual Jewish Theater Festival, 5/12

On May 12, 2014 the Jewish Theater Festival will launch the first of it's eight shows, "The Rigano Songbook" at the Mandell JCC in West Hartford, Connecticut. The J*Fest is the first Festival of contemporary Jewish theater and entertainment that is hosted and supported by local community organizations.

There are eight plays and musicals in the festival. The shows will be welcomed by carefully selected Jewish Community Centers in Manhattan, West Hartford, Ct., and Wayne, N.J. The shows will be performed on a rotating basis over six weeks in May and June 2014. The eight productions will have one performance each in all three venues.

Executive Director of J*Fest, Nancy Holson, a well respected writer and producer said, "This kind of community based celebration is exciting and long overdue. We received a wealth of notable submissions because prospective and well known producers and writers who were excited by the possibilities this type of festival presents. The shows are all entertaining original works, with a wide range of audience appeal. They were selected, not only on merit, but on how they complemented one The productions were selected to complement one another and the venues in which they will be performed."

The productions include:

"Aquatic Information" a multimedia performance art piece; "David Michael Finklesteins Bar Mitzvah," which welcomes a young man to an adult community whose priorities are questionable; "Three Challahs," which encourages children to enjoy the mitzvah of the Shabbat; "What Next," a black comedy where two friends, who died together, recount their final days and observe their families in mourning; "Uncle Philip's Coat" shares the joys and frustrations of a colorful immigrant, through the memories of his nephew; "The Rigano Songbook, Jew-ish Edition," The world premiere of this musical comedy piece whose writers have performed at famed New York cabarets; "Gefilte Fish Chronicles, the Musica,l" inspired by an award winning documentary, this musical which celebrates the power of family, was recently invited to perform at the White House; and "The Second Sun," an unexpected story of hope and love, written by celebrated writer-performer James Patrick Nelson.

Along with Executive Director Nancy Holson, the Management team also includes:

Amy Holson-Schwartz is an award-winning playwright and producer and aspiring academic. Her play, Can I Really Date a Guy Who Wears a Yarmulke? won the Producers Award at the 2010 Midtown International Theatre Festival and has since been performed in Brooklyn, NY, Newark, DE, and Fairfax, VA, as well as in Toronto, Canada and Jerusalem, Israel. She currently resides in London, UK, where she is entering the second year of a PhD at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Her research is on the transatlantic transfer of the commercial musical. As a producer, she has been responsible for multiple productions of The News in Revue, Parenting 101, and Ludwig Live! and is currently an Associate Producer with Peaceful Lion Productions. She is the co-founder and Executive Director of Festival Arts and served as the General Manager of the Mekka Collective.

Iris Burnett, co-author and producer of "Gefilte Fish Chronicles, the Musical," is a highly accomplished writer and communication strategist. Her credits include Senior VP Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for the Sci-Fi Channel and USA Networks. Creation of the award winning "Erase the Hate" campaign, Chief of Staff at The United States Information Agency, and Founder of Count Me In for Women's Economic Independence. Burnett has been political advisor to two Presidents and many elected officials. While in government, she co- created the White House Women's Office, and the Interagency Council for Women. Among other achievements she was the Director of Security for a National Political Convention, she remains the first and only woman to serve in this position. Burnett co- produced the acclaimed documentary "The Gefilte Fish Chronicles", which has been seen on over 70 PBS stations. She is the author of three books; "So You Think You Can Be President," "Schlepper, a Mostly True Tale of Presidential Politics," and "The Gefilte Fish Chronicles Companion Cookbook." "Gefilte Fish Chronicles the Musical," recently had a Command performance at the White House. Other theater projects include, "Slow Dance with a Hot Pick-Up," "Hurricane," a musical adaptation of the devastating 1938 New England storm, and "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", the Lloyd Price story.

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