A new, original musical based on Jewish-themed children’s books makes its way to the region this week.
Five-time Tony Award nominee Elizabeth Swados wrote “Jewish Books Cooking,” which debuted in Manhattan on May 20. For the four Southern performances, presented through the programming department of the Jackson-based Institute of Southern Jewish Life, Beth Kandor has created a production using Jackson-based singers and actors.
Swados has composed, written, and directed for over 30 years, including the smash hit “Runaways.” She said she has probably read every Jewish children’s book in existence and wanted to transfer the magic to the stage.
“The books that I selected for Jewish Books Cooking make me laugh, have imagination, have characters that talented young actors can play, and have stories about life that are good to know,” she said.
Books in the show include “Baxter: The Pig who Wanted to be Kosher,” “The Rabbi and the Twenty-Nine Witches,” “The Latke who Wouldn’t Stop Screaming” and “Beautiful Yetta the Yiddish Chicken.”
Kander, who is ISJL development and communications coordinator, was recently selected as the Charles M. Getchell New Play Award winner (Southeatern Theatre Conference). She has been named “Best Jackson Writer” by the Jackson Free Press twice. Two of her plays, “Scrambled” and “See Jane Quit,” are currently available through Steele Spring Theatrical Licensing. She also wrote a children’s book, “Glubbery Gray: The Knight-Eating Beast.”
The show is targeted to Kindergarten through third grade, and is accompanied by a lesson from the ISJL Education Department about the importance of reading and Jewish books.
The tour begins at B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge on Dec. 2 at 10:30 a.m., then Dec. 3 at 10:30 a.m. at the New Orleans Jewish Community Center.
On Dec. 9 at 10 a.m., the show will be at the Memphis Jewish Community Center, with the final performance on Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. at Beth Israel in Jackson.