This is my third year coordinating the JCC Children’s Theatre program and I look forward to it every year. Each year is a different show, a different cast and a unique set of challenges to tackle. Last year the challenge was to transform the multipurpose room at the CJCE into a remote African jungle. This year’s big challenge is to get the cast to not smile as they portray the Addams Family and the Addams’ deceased ancestors.

But I leave most of the hard work up to the theatre staff. According to the kids, my most important function is providing the snacks. Once this season is complete I’ll have supplied hungry thespians with 1,865 snacks. That’s a lot of clementines and Cheez-Its!

The number of participants in our theatre program has grown steadily over the past few years and has doubled to 28 since 2016. Last year the cast of TARZAN performed before a packed house of over 200 on closing night. It was the first time the JCC Children’s Theatre performed with a live pit orchestra consisting of six musicians.

While the children in our program amaze us every day, they reach new heights with the help of a committed and talented directing team. Richard Lee Waldeck, Brett Greenwood, Tamar Fishbein and Jamie Pavlofsky combined have 49 years of experience working with children and 105 years of theatre experience! We are so grateful to have them.

Although I am proud of the growth of our theatre program, the true measure of success is not found in the number of participants, size of the audience, or amount of money raised in program ad sales. I believe the true success of the JCC’s Children’s Theatre program is most meaningfully expressed in other ways:

  • A nervous nine-year-old who has never auditioned for a show before finds the chutzpah to belt out “Tomorrow” in front of four directors, all strangers to her.
  • It’s closing night, and the girls in the dressing room are hugging and crying because they’ll no longer see each other regularly because the show is nearly over.
  • A seven-year-old joins the show only because, “his mom wanted him to,” and accomplishes things he never dreamed he could do.

These are the true measures of a successful program. And for the kids who want more theatre in their lives, or those who would like to give theatre a try, we are excited to announce plans for Camp Shalom Theatre specialty camp in summer 2019. More details to follow soon!

For more information on Children’s Theatre, please contact Meryl Hattenbach, Program Manager at (937) 401-1550 or

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