Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Gloria Yousha
Scene Around 

Scene Around


George (l) and Ira Gershwin

Probably just coincidence...

I've been telling myself "coincidence" for more than 25 years. It was about that length of time back when I was visiting at the home of my cousin who is like me, a professional vocalist. He is also (not like me) a superb pianist and composer of musicals.

My cousin surrounds himself with show business artifacts, including books.

Thumbing through one of his books about George Gershwin that particular day, I shrieked when I thought I saw a photograph of myself as a young gal. "That's me," I shouted! "That's me!"

My cousin grabbed the book from me to catch a glimpse. "No way," he said. "That's not you! That's Rosa Bruskin Gershwin, George and Ira's mother when she just got married."

I responded, "Well, if it's not me, then surely we are related somehow." My cousin and I looked into it and found that she was from the same part of Russia as my paternal ancestors. Hmmm...???

I was going to explore further but my cousin warned me that it could be dangerous for me because of the many millions of dollars in copyright... and he knew that the current beneficiary of all those millions was not a blood relative of the Gershwins, rather a nephew of Ira's through Ira's wife.

So I dropped the idea. (I had no interest in the money anyway).

Recently, though, while looking up facts about George Gershwin for a show about him I planned to attend, I learned that he was born at 242 Snediker Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y.  Gee... I lived at that very same address when I was just a toddler. I was told it was a two-story, two-apartment home owned by my dad's family. Of course, at the time I was born, George was already wealthy, living in upper Manhattan and preparing to move to Hollywood.

He died a year or so afterward while still in his 30s.

Again, it's probably just a coincidence... but nice to daydream about.

(Incidentally, my cabaret show is titled "Gershwin and all that jazz.")

More about Gershwin...

The Winter Park Playhouse, Central Florida's only professional musical theatre, is paying tribute to the iconic talent of George and Ira Gershwin this holiday season with the World Premiere of "Crazy For Gershwin" Dec. 5- 14. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Thursdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m. Additional matinee performances include Sunday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. and Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m.  A special "Third Thursday" performance is scheduled for Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m.

"Crazy For Gershwin" is an original song and dance revue celebrating the lives and well-loved music of the legendary Gershwin brothers.  Conceived by artistic director, ROY ALAN, narrative written by TODD ALLEN LONG, directed by ROB WINN ANDERSON, choreographed by Rob Winn Anderson and Roy Alan and musically arranged and directed by CHRISTOPHER LEAVY, this high-energy musical will appeal to patrons of all ages. The professional cast is a powerhouse mix of theatre veterans and newcomers, and their combined talents breathe new life and excitement into the classic bedrock of songs.

The cast includes Central Florida favorites Roy Alan, NATALIE CORDONE, SHAWN KILGORE, VICTOR SOUFFRANT and KATE ZALOUMES. KASEY SOLLENBERGER is making her Winter Park Playhouse debut. The Playhouse trio will accompany the cast with Christopher Leavy on piano, NED WILKINSON on multiple instruments and SAM FORREST on percussion.

Ticket prices are: $38 evenings, $35 senior citizen evenings, $28 all matinees, $25 "Third Thursday" evening, $20 industry professionals and students 25 years and under, $18 preview performance. Student rush "$10@10" offers  $10 tickets for students 25 years and under, 10 minutes prior to a performance when seats are available.

For tickets and more information call the Playhouse box office 407-645-0145 or visit online http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org

The Winter Park Playhouse is associated with Actors' Equity Association and is located at 711 Orange Avenue Suite C, Winter Park, Fla. 32789.

More about music and talent...

Our own MIMI SHADER and BILL SHAMUS will perform for Hadassah at Congregation Ohev Shalom on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Bill, who is 90 years old, first started singing in 1980 at the Congregation of Liberal Judaism. He spent 10 years performing with the Golden Tones as one of their lead singers. He has performed on many cruise ships and claims to have sung on five continents! He retired to Village on the Green three years ago where he met talented pianist, Mimi, who could effortlessly transpose songs into his keys and thus the duo was born!

Mimi began playing piano at age seven, began lessons at age eight and now, many years later, continues to dazzle those around her with her incredible ability to play by ear. She loves bringing her passion and love for Judaism to the monthly Yiddish Club at Chambrel. She has also passed her musical genes down to her lovely granddaughter, ANDRA (formerly of the renown trio Visions) who is still performing around the country.

The Mimi and Bill duo's upbeat performances will be a trip down memory lane and a night of entertainment nobody should miss.

For further time and further information, contact JOAN POHL at 407.628.4477.

Once again, good folks to write about...

The Jewish Pavilion is honoring FAYE NOVICK on Dec. 5th at their JP Connections Luncheon at the Hilton Altamonte Springs at 11 a.m.

Faye has been active with the Jewish Pavilion for more than four years. She serves on the Friends of the Jewish Pavilion Board (a women's auxiliary) as well as the Jewish Pavilion Board.  Each of those years, she has coordinated all of the vendors at the Jewish Pavilion's annual walk. She uses her superb event-planning skills to ensure that vendors and sponsors have the proper placement at the walk and participants are able to fully enjoy an incredible festival at Cranes Roost Park. For three years Faye visited with a senior in a dementia facility. Even when the senior was no  longer able to communicate, Faye went to see her weekly.

Also being honored at the luncheon is TOBY VANDERMARK.

Toby has been active with the Jewish Pavilion for more than four years. She serves on the Friends of the Jewish Pavilion, as well as the treasurer of the Jewish Pavilion Board. 

Toby is responsible for researching and finding an ideal database for the Jewish Pavilion. She co-chaired the 2013 Jewish Pavilion walk/festival and set up walk pages for all the team captains for all four walks. Every month, Toby balances financial records and reports to the board. Monthly, she visits with the residents of Savannah Court and provides hors d'oeuvres for their ice cream social. Toby also participates in the Jewish Pavilion holiday parties at many of our facilities. She is an integral member of the walk and gala committees.

RSVP for the luncheon at http://www.jewishpavilion.org.

Such excitement is coming our way...

That "excitement" I refer to is "Flashdance," the musical.

It is a stage adaptation of the 1983 musical film "Flashdance."

Set in Pittsburgh, Pa., the show revolves around 18-year-old Alex, a welder by day and 'flashdancer' by night, and her dreams of attending the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy. The show includes hit songs, "Maniac," "Manhunt." "What A Feeling" and much more. It sounds like a glorious evening of entertainment...not to be missed! The show runs from Tuesday, Dec. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 8 at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, 401 West Livingston Street, Orlando. For information, phone the box office at 407-440-7900.

One for the road...

Anything that speaks of cruelty to animals makes me upset... but I needed a short joke and people are assuring me that this is truly funny:

Solly took his King Charles spaniel dog to the vet. "Doctor Cohen," he said sadly, "I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to cut off my dog's tail."

Dr. Cohen stepped back in shock, "Solly, why should I do such a terrible thing?"

"Oy vay, my mother-in-law's arriving tomorrow, and I don't want anything to make her think she's welcome."


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