Curtain goes up on theater program for Jewish youth

A theater experience primarily geared for Jewish youth ages seven through 17 is taking center stage with the new Highland Park-and Edison-based program Studio J Theater. A creative, safe, and welcoming outlet for students to enjoy their commonality as Jews who are passionate about the arts, Studio J. Theater auditions will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for ages seven through 11, and from 6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. for ages 12 through 17 at the Highland Park Conservative Temple (201 South Third Ave The program will conclude with a performance on March 29, 2015.

Rehearsals will continue on Wednesday evenings through the end of March.The program is hosted by the Highland Park Conservative Temple–Congregation Anshe Emet in partnership with Congregation Neve Shalom of Metuchen, and with sponsorship support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.

While the students work hard to rehearse and perform a play, a quality performance is only one of Studio J’s many goals.”So many kids have artistic talents in need of a nurturing environment to grow and we hope Studio J will be that place,” said Rabbi Eliot Malomet of the Highland Park Conservative Temple–Congregation Anshe Emet. The Temple also sees Studio J as a new destination for local kids to socialize.

“We want to invite and encourage a community of Jewish youth who want to hang out and learn together,” said Linda Tondow, president of the Highland Park Conservative Temple–Congregation Anshe Emet.

This year’s play, Only in America by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, is based on a true story about a New York Jew who moves to North Carolina to write and distribute a newspaper. He quickly befriends the townspeople and embarks upon a new challenging journey – that of integrating the schools in his new community.

The play will be directed by Stacy Greenblatt, who plans to expand on the play’s themes of social justice and giving back to society. Students will also enjoy learning Yiddish phrases and naming their favorite Jewish and holiday foods. “Only in America is full of Jewish humor and values that students of all ages can connect to. The play boasts a wide array of characters, and an ensemble cast, that will allow students to work together to discuss and perform the play,” said Ms. Greenblatt, whose academic training is in creative writing and theater education and who teaches theater classes at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick and McCarter Theatre in Princeton. In addition, she has written an interactive Purim Play performed by the New York City-based Jewish theater company known as “24/6.”

Studio J hopes to integrate Jewish culture and values with theater arts. By choosing a play with many Jewish cultural themes and points for discussion, the student actors will have the opportunity to explore the play through the eyes of the characters and discuss how the same ideas affect their lives today.

For more information, please contact Director Stacy Greenblatt at



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