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The Friend Center Announces 2008/09 Programming

July 31
3:41 PM 2008

The FriendCenter at the The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (JCCSF) today announced details of its comprehensive Performing Arts programming for 2008/09.The eclectic array of performances in intimate Kanbar Hall will include solo performances by luminaries such as Bebe Neuwirth, Phoebe Snow and Arlo Guthrie, and five fascinating thematic series: Abracadabra: an exploration of the conjuring arts and Jewish tradition; a salute to American icon Leonard Bernstein; an Italian Jewish film series; Let the Games Begin, a series of sports related programming; and Evolve, part of a city-wide celebration of Charles Darwin's 200th birthday.


This explosive new series is designed to expose the origins of Jewish Magic, mysticism and the paranormal, and includes several lectures and presentations.

The first in the series is the Bay Area exclusive of An Evening with Ricky Jay on Saturday, November 1 at 8 p.m.The world renowned sleight-of-hand master and magician, and source on the subject for the Encyclopedia Britannica is also known for his stage and screen work with David Mamet and his acting roles in hits like HBO's Deadwood.Recommended for mature audiences only.

Abracadabra: Jews and Magic, presented by magician and historian, Manny Sperling pays homage to legendary Jewish magicians from Houdini to Copperfield.Not recommended for children, the event is presented on Sunday, December 7 at 2 p.m.

Master Magician Jay Alexander appears in Kanbar Hall with a family program on Sun., Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. (See family section)


Celebrating Leonard Bernstein

The JCCSF salutes the American icon and musical genius whose Jewish voice reverberated throughout every piece he wrote, conducted or taught.

Events in this series include Reaching for the Note, the acclaimed PBS documentary documenting Bernstein's musical and personal life be screened on Thursday, November 20th at 7 p.m.Admission is free, but reservations are required.On Thursday, December 4 at 8 p.m. pianist Jeffrey Siegel offers The Anniversaire Pieces, Bernstein's musical tributes written for friends, family and fellow composers, as well as Meditation on a Wedding, and El Salon Mexico.Cantor Roslyn Barak presents Lenny's Voice: Bernstein's Humor and Jewish Spirit on Sunday, December 14 at 7 p.m.

Also in the series is the JCCSF's benefit event: 100% Michael Feinstein – Bernstein & Friends on Sunday, November 23 with cocktails at 5 p.m., and performance at 7 p.m. when Michael Feinstein reprises his memorable Carnegie Hall tribute to his friend and mentor.


The Italian Jews During Fascism

In collaboration with the Museo Italo Americano's exhibition "Il Ghetto: Forging Italian Jewish Identity," and curated and co-presented by the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, The Italian Jews during Fascism series includes three films:

The Truce (La Tregua) based on Italian writer Primo Levi's The Reawakening, directed by award-winner Francesco Rosi, and starring John Turturro. The Truce will be screened on Wednesday, October 15 at 7 p.m.

The definitive documentary Memoria by Ruggero Gabbai will be screened on Wednesday, November 5 at 7 p.m. These compelling interviews of 90 Italian Jewish survivors of Auschwitz examine the rise of fascism in Italy and the Italian experience in the camps.

Unfair Competition (Concrrenza Sleale), a bittersweet comedy by Oscar-nominated director Ettore Scola, will be presented on Wednesday, December 17 at 7 p.m.Set in Rome, home to an ancient Jewish Community, the film deals with the friendship of neighbors.



Evolve is a San Francisco citywide celebration in which more than 20 local institutions are hosting performances, lectures and activities in celebration of the sesquicentennial of the publishing of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species.

The JCCSFFriendCenter and L.A. Theatre Works present The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial by Peter Goodchild on Thursday, January 22 at 8 p.m.Based on original transcripts from the 1925 "Monkey Trial, this staged radio play's subject remains relevant and controversial today.

On Thursday, March 26 ay 8 p.m., noted anthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History, Richard Milner offers his one-man musical Charles Darwin: Live and in Concert, a witty blend of song, history and science.


Let The Games Begin

The JCCSF is proud to be hosting the 2009 JCC Maccabi Games in August next year, and in conjunction with the games, is offering a series of sports-related programming: The Bay Area Premiere of the documentary, The First Basket, David Vyorst's fascinating look at the impact of basketball on modern Jewish history (Monday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.) and Orthodox Stance, about prizefighter Dmitriy Salita, also a fervently Orthodox Jew living in Brooklyn. (Monday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.)


Great American Songbook

Kicking off the season at Kanbar Hall on Sunday, October 5 at 7 p.m. is the Emmy and Tony Award winning singing actress Bebe Neuwirth (Sweet Charity, 1986 and Chicago, 1996). Television audiences know her best as Frasier's long-suffering wife, Lileth.She was last seen in San Francisco three years ago in Here Lies Jenny and returns in concert with An Evening of Kurt Weill and Kander & Ebb.

On Saturday, October 25 at 8 p.m., singer/songwriter Phoebe Snow makes a long-awaited return to the concert stage.A vocal phenomenon who has been entertaining audiences since the 1970s, Snow has performed with the Who's Who of prolific artists including Lou Rawls, Jackson Brown, Paul Simon, Dave Mason, Thelma Houston, and a host of others.

The Great Broadway Sing-Along, produced by Ellie Mednick, makes its annual holiday appearance in Kanbar Hall on Thursday, December 11 at 8 p.m. This popular evening of song by such luminaries as Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and others, will also include "Bernstein on Broadway," A special tribute to Leonard Bernstein's unforgettable Broadway scores.


Jewish and World Music

Affectionately known as the "Jewish Pavarotti" Greek-born tenor Alberto Mizrahi has appeared worldwide in recitals, symphony concerts and operas.He appears at the JCCSF in concert on Sunday, November 16 at 7 p.m. with his unique repertoire that spans nine languages and confirms his status as one of the world's leading interpreters of Jewish music.

The Ninth Annual San Francisco World Music Festival will be presented on Friday, November 21 with a discussion at 7 p.m., followed by a performance at 8 p.m.Featuring the sonic riches of the world's reed instruments in the premiere of "The Reeds Give Way to the Wind," the evening focuses on performers from places as diverse as Azerbaijan, China, Italy and Turkey.

The Klezmer Conservatory Band, led by the legendary Hankus Netsky, offers its distinctive foot-stomping mix of Yiddish music on Saturday, December 6 at 8 p.m.Since its formation in 1980 the KCB has performed from coast to coast. In 1990, the Klezmer Conservatory Band made its debut abroad, with concerts in Germany and a remarkable performance at the first-ever International Yiddish Festival in Krakow, Poland. The band has toured Europe regularly, and has also appeared at Australia's Adelaide Festival, New Zealand's International Festival of the Arts, and Womad.

The Sisters of Sheynville, Canada's premier all-female swing-klezmer sextet makes its West Coast debut on Saturday, March 28 at 8:30 p.m. Inspired by the Barry Sisters of the 1930s and 1940s, this vintage band takes Yiddish swing to new heights with airtight three- and four-part harmonies.The group is presented in association with the 24th Annual Jewish Music Festival.



An Acoustic Evening with John Sebastian and David Grisman A rare, intimate performance by two legendary performers on Saturday, November 15 at 8 p.m. will feature traditional folk tunes, blues, instrumentals and classic favorites. John Sebastian and David Grisman's musical history dates back to the 1960s when their Even Dozen Jug was part of the Greenwich Village folk revival.Sebastian went on to perform with The Lovin' Spoonful, while Grisman spearheaded an acoustic music revolution with "Dawg music."

Arlo Guthrie: The Lost World Tour:The eldest son of America's beloved folk music legend Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie grew up surrounded by musicians, all of whom were significant influences in his career, which exploded in 1967 with the release of "Alice's Restaurant." In addition to being an accomplished musician and singer/songwriter, he is a natural-born storyteller, who weaves hilarious and touching anecdotes into his performances.His "Lost World" show on Saturday, April 4 at 8 p.m. celebrates the first recording of new material in 12 years, and features his son Abe and the Burns Sisters.



Church of Reason (Knessiyat Ha-Sekhel) comes from Sderot in Israel's south Their music combines gypsy and rock with classical, Jewish and Balkan sounds, creating something completely fresh.This American premiere on Saturday, October 18 at 8 p.m. features an exciting collaboration with a string quartet from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Formerly known as the Tin Hat Trio, the freewheeling chamber group is now a quartet known as Tin Hat. New members Ben Goldberg and Ara Anderson join forces with founding members Karla Kihlstedt and Mark Orton to add fresh colors and textures to the beloved ensemble's sound. Tin Hat will perform on Thursday, February 19 at 8 p.m.

Other Minds 14.From March 5 – 7, the JCCSF hosts the annual Other Minds Festival of New Music, which this year will include microtonal legend Ben Johnston, whose music is performed by John Schneider and La Monte Young protégé Michael Harrison in collaboration with the Del Sol String Quartet; 26-year-old emerging talent Catherine Lamb (USA); Bent Sorensen (Denmark); and young Polish composers, Pawe Mykietyn and Pawe Szyma ski.Each concert will be preceded by a discussion with the composers and performers, hosted by Executive and Artistic Director, Charles Amirkhanian.All discussions begin at 7 p.m., followed by 8 p.m. performances.

Avishai Cohen Eastern Unit Internationally renowned bassist/composer Avishai Cohen and his celebrated Jazz Trio create a fresh musical journey into the heritage and history of his native Israel for his latest project Sensitive Hours to be performed on Thursday, May 7 at 8 p.m.

Rovaté 2009: Fissures, Futures Rova Saxophone Quartet returns to Kanbar Hall for another groundbreaking collaboration on Friday and Saturday, May 22 and 23 at 8 p.m.Featuring the digital animation of artistic duo Semiconductor, Rovaté 2009 explores what happens when onscreen images are triggered by the sounds and actions of musicians, including Charlotte Hug, Lisle Ellis, Thomas Lehn and Joan Jeanrenaud.


Frank Ferrante in An Evening with Groucho: Legendary comedian Groucho Marx is brought to lifeby Teatro ZinZanni audience favorite Frank Ferrante.. Ferrante originated the title role inGroucho: A Life in Revue written by Groucho's son Arthur in New York, London and on PBS television. He earned New York's Theatre World Award, a NY Outer Critics Circle nomination and London's Laurence Olivier nomination for 'Comedy Performance of the Year.' An Evening with Groucho is presented on Saturday, February 28, with two performances at 5 & 8 p.m.

Nigerian Spam Scam ScanActor Dean Cameron responded to a Nigerian e-mail scammer, posing as a lonely millionaire from Florida, and subsequently wove the experience into a hilarious multimedia comedy about a relationship built on misunderstanding, desperation and deception.Victor Isaac co-stars as the bewildered Nigerian con man.The show is presented on Thursday, March 19 at 8 p.m.


Live in Concert: Susie EssmanFor six seasons, comedian Susie Essman has played the venomous Susie Greene on the hit HBI comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm.A devastatingly funny audience favorite, she brings her razor sharp rants against female stereotypes, her mother and political correctness to the JCCSF on Saturday, December 13 at 8 p.m.


Lar Lubovitch Dance Company As part of the 40th anniversary tour, the company presents a program on Thursday, January 15 at 8 p.m. featuring Men's Stories: A Concerto in Ruins and other dances.Hailed by the New York Times as "one of the best ten choreographers in the world," Lar Lubovitch has choreographed more than 100 works for his New York-based company.

Halau O Keikiali'iOn Saturday, February 7 at 8 p.m., the JCCSF Art and Healing Program presents the leading San Francisco-based Hula group, in an evening of powerful dance, beautiful chant and exquisite costumes. The program shows how Hula lightens the spirit and brings balance into life, and highlights the role of the goddess Hi'Iaka, who heals disease.

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange presents Small Dances about Big Ideas on Saturday, April 18 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 19 at 7 p.m. Commissioned by HarvardLawSchool for the 60th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials, the work uses movement, spoken word and documentary sound-scapes.




More Treasures from the Archives (Sat., Nov. 22 at 8 p.m.) includes previously unseen clips of such giants as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, T-Bone Walker, Zoot Sims, Benny Goodman, and many more.

Jazz on the Tube:The Golden Age of Jazz on TV (Sat., Jan. 24 at 8 p.m.) These are a series of televised jazz performances from the 1950s by Coleman Hawkins, Art Pepper, Charlie Parker, Lee Konitz and the Modern Jazz Quartet, among others.

Cab Calloway and the Kings of the Cotton Club (Sat., April 11 at 8 p.m.)An evening that celebrates Cab Calloway's 100th birthday with clips from the fabled Cotton Club of the 1920s and 1930s.Artists include Duke Ellington, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Lena Horne, and more.


Master Magician Jay Alexander creates his own brand of magic and wows audiences with his unique high-energy brand of intelligent entertainment.An astounding magician, mentalist and comedian, he appears at Kanbar Hall on Sunday, October 19 at 2 p.m.

New Pickle Circus The clowns, acrobats and other performers make a welcome return to the JCCSF for three performances: Saturday, January 24 at 5 p.m. and Sunday, January 25 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The Pickle Family veterans and CircusCenter students have delighted audiences of all ages, and these shows sell out fast.

If You Give a Pig a Pancake and Other Storybooks: Following the success of Seussical the Musical, Theatreworks USA presents a collection of mini-musicals based on children's storybooks on Sunday, May 3.Two performances at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Trout Fishing in America:Grammy nominees bring an infectious mix of folk/pop and family music on Sunday, March 29 at 2 p.m.

Travel Adventure Cinema

This series unlocks the mysteries of people places and cultures that shape the world.Each presentation is followed by audience discussions with the filmmakers.

10 Questions for the Dalai Lama (By Rick Ray) An enlightening and provocative portrait of a simple leader, and the history and circumstances of the Northern Himalayas.(Wed., October 29 at 2 p.m.)

Cambodia (By Mike Smiley) A fascinating study in contrasts, the film illuminates ways in which Cambodia has managed to maintain its rich identity despite violence, poverty and famine. (Wed., November 19 at 2 p.m.)

The Soul of Morocco (By Rick Ray) A look at the complicated land of the Kasbah, captured in stunning cinematography, the film takes viewers through cities, humble villages and countryside. (Tuesday, December 9 at 2 p.m.)

The JCCSF is the longest-serving Jewish community center on the West Coast, providing educational, social, cultural and recreational programs to the entire Bay Area since 1877.Open to people of all ages, all faiths and all backgrounds, the JCCSF provides quality experiences through a mix of formal and informal activities.The JCCSF is located at

3200 California Street
(at Presidio), and since its grand opening in January 2004, it has welcomed over 5,000 individuals on a daily basis.

Subscription series tickets for the 2008-09 JCCSF Arts & Ideas Season will be available August 1, and single tickets go on sale August 25.To order, phone the JCCSF Box Office at 415/292-1233. For additional information, visit <> .


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