An Eclectic Upcoming Season at the Gordon

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“On Your Marc”

Fans of the arts can have a transactional experience anywhere — buy a ticket, see the show and then head home. But the goal at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts is to turn each event into an experience, whether that’s with pre-show entertainment, a Q&A with a director or actor after a film screening or an interactive children’s musical.

“That’s what we’re about,” said Alyson Bonavoglia, director of film festival and special projects at the Gordon Center. “Trying to make things here that are really special and you’re not going to see at other places.”

The Gordon, housed on the campus of the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, boasts an eclectic 2017-2018 season sure to please music, dance and film lovers, families and theater-goers with events featuring banjo and guitar virtuosos, Israeli film, teen choirs and a Chanukah musical.

The season begins Oct. 21 with the film “On Your Marc” about the life of TV’s Marc Summers (born Berkowitz) of Nickelodeon and Food Network fame. Summers will be at the event, which features pre-show music, a “Double Dare” activity and a Q&A with Summers after the film.

Another major fall highlight is the Nov. 9 performance of banjo masters Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, winners of the 2016 Grammy for best folk album.

“We’re really excited because we have a really great folk and bluegrass audience at the Gordon Center,” Bonavoglia said. “There’s really no other venue quite like this that does folk and bluegrass.”

“Menashe” plays at the Gordon Nov. 19. (Photo provided)

Ten days later, the Gordon shows “Menashe,” filmed in the Yiddish-speaking Chasidic community in Brooklyn, which follows the story of a father and son after their wife and mother dies and features a Krieger Schechter Day School grad. Local non-Chasidic families that speak Yiddish will be in attendance.

“They will be part of a post-movie panel discussion, so we’ll be talking about the movie and speaking Yiddish and the meaning of Yiddish in the 21st century outside of the very religious community,” Bonavoglia said.

The Gordon’s Exploring Jewish Film series, which kicked off Sept. 11, continues in November with “Footnote,” a tale of rivalry between father-and-son Talmudic scholars, and in December with “Finding Babel,” which follows the journey of Russian author Isaac Babel’s grandson as he researches his grand-father’s life and death.

This season’s musical offerings, in addition to Fleck and Washburn, include a performance by famed Israeli singer-songwriter David Broza and Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary. The annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration features Soul to Soul, presented by National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, which brings together African-American and Yiddish American traditions.

Family programming features a solo show by Laurie Berkner, who People magazine once called “the queen of children’s music” and a 3-D comedy and juggling show from Mark Nizer. “Hanna and the Moonlit Dress,” co-presented by the Macks Center for Jewish Education, PJ Library and Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, brings an interactive musical about the miracles of Chanukah and Shabbat, featuring holidays songs and crafts, to the Gordon.

“It’s a passion project,” Melissa Seltzer, director of arts and culture education and adult programming at the JCC, said. “It’s more than just a show, it’s become a program that’s going to connect with a lot of people and make impact with an educational mission.”

February brings the fifth annual Baltimore County Dance Month, a collaboration between the Gordon, Towson University, the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences and Baltimore County Public Schools. The month features a performance of “Beauty and the Beast” from the Ballet Theatre of Maryland on Feb. 11, the Baltimore Dance Invitational on Feb. 15 and the Axis Dance Company, an ensemble of disabled and non-disabled performers, on Feb. 24.

The Gordon is working with Towson and its community dance students, who will learn choreography from Axis to perform on the Gordon stage. Axis performers will also give master classes at Baltimore County schools and give a lecture demonstration for students prior to their Gordon performance. The Gordon is working to make sure all events are open to people of all ability levels, Bonavoglia said.

In addition to its performing arts educational opportunities in dance, guitar and voice lessons, the Gordon is offering its first Broadway Boot Camp in conjunction with the Children’s Theater Production Company, which kicks off Oct. 15.

Bonavoglia and Seltzer have been at the helm of the Gordon Center since senior managing director of arts and culture Randi Benesch departed in June for Center Stage. The two are looking to carry on the legacy they built with Benesch in her five years at the Gordon, which attracted larger audiences with new arts programming and innovative events, as the search for Benesch’s replacement continues.

“The goal is to really keep the Gordon Center vital and keep great things coming to the theater,” Bonavoglia said. “So we’re still in a transitional stage. Stay tuned.”

For the complete 2017-2018 season listings, visit jcc.org/gordon-center.

mshapiro@midatlanticmedia.com

 

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