After a year of exile, the Axelrod Performing Arts Center reopens on Nov. 9 in the 520-seat theater it called home from 2005 to 2012.
The inaugural show, called “All That Jazz,” stars TV, movie, and concert performer and two-time Tony Award-winning actress Christine Ebersole.
She will be joined by pianist Art Topilow, violinist Aaron Weinstein, and the Axelrod Jazz All Stars.
A second attraction, the hit musical Les Misérables, will follow, opening Thursday evening, Nov. 14, and giving six repeat performances.
Thursday, Dec. 12, is opening day for The Wizard of Oz, a production of the Axelrod PAC’s Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts Program. Its director, Lisa Goldfarb, told NJJN, “It’s wonderful to be back home. Everyone’s excited, including audience members who attended Axelrod events through the years.”
The good news notwithstanding, APAC CEO Jess Levy said the theater group still must rely on community support. “Start-up funds for insurance, rent, marketing, staffing, and utilities are needed,” he said, adding that theater namesakes Dr. Herbert and Evelyn Axelrod have pledged matching donations for funds contributed by other donors.
The APAC operation was forced to vacate the Ruth Hyman JCC building in Deal Park in November 2012 amid JCC bankruptcy proceedings. At the time, the APAC directors said they decided to close the theater following an order from Ocean Township and the court-appointed trustee citing violations and needed repairs.
Those repairs have now been completed, said Levy.
Goldfarb said that the theater has weathered its months of emptiness with little visible effect. “We had to clean up the lobby and the backstage area and move our equipment back into the office space,” she said. “Other than that, everything was pretty much as we left it.”
Goldfarb said that although much of the JCC building remains unoccupied, Preschool of the Arts, sponsored by Chabad of the Shore, is operating on the premises.