“Gallery Players is kind of in my blood,” says Allan Finkelstein, former President and CEO of the Jewish Community Centers of North America (JCCA). Finkelstein will return to the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus to lead the music in the Legends of Gallery Players theatrical production on Thursday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Before his 20-year tenure as CEO and President of JCCA, Finkelstein worked at the Columbus JCC for nearly ten years as both Executive Vice President and resident musical conductor of Gallery Players. “I have a plaque that they gave me when I left that says ‘from the board room to the orchestra pit.’ Literally, I used to go from the pit back to the office!”
Finkelstein began conducting at Gallery Players at the first performance held in the Roth/Resler Theater in 1983, only months after he started working at the JCC. “Bea and Buddy [Roth] actually handed me the baton at the first show,” remembers Finkelstein. “People asked me, ‘Is that like throwing out the first ball? Where do you go after you give the baton to the conductor?’ I said, ‘I am the conductor.’”
Finkelstein and his wife recently moved back to Columbus after his retirement from the JCCA. After living and working at JCCs across the country, Finkelstein says that Columbus was the one place where they felt they were a part of a community.
“We still have a lot of friends [in Columbus]. Our kids grew up here. It’s still a place where we felt like we never left,” says Finkelstein. “I’ve spent my whole life working to build Jewish communities. This one was always strong and still is strong.”
“Aside from being a close friend, Allan is a talented and committed musical director,” says Legends of Gallery Players producer Fred Luper. “Not only did he conduct many Gallery Players musicals, he also directed the High Holy Days choir at Tifereth Israel when he was in Columbus. It’s wonderful that he has jumped back in to supporting Gallery Players, especially for this tribute to some of Gallery’s most important Legends.”
Legends of Gallery Players is a new tradition at the JCC paying tribute to those who have made extraordinary contributions to Gallery Players over the past six decades. The evening of music and memories will celebrate the honorees with a theatrical production highlighting the honorees’ achievements and a dessert reception.
Tickets can be purchased individually for $35 or for groups of ten or more for $30. Sponsorships are available with added benefits. Those interested in being a sponsor should contact Sheila Cline at 614-559-6225 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To purchase tickets and find more information, visit jccgalleryplayers.org.