LEGENDS OF GALLERY PLAYERS
The Harold M. Eisenstein Theater was alive with music and memories the evening of Thursday, April 7 at the Jewish Community Center. Over 200 people attended Legends of Gallery Players to celebrate the six honorees who gave so much of their time and talents to Gallery Players productions over the past 67 years.
The evening began with a cocktail and caviar preview party. After, there was a theatrical production which featured the accomplishments of each honoree. The story of Gallery Players was told through pictures, narration, quotes from the honorees, and, of course, musical theatre. The casts of Guys & Dolls, Fiddler on the Roof and Damn Yankees performed a selection of songs from each show.
“The Inaugural Legends program [on] April 7 was outstanding,” says Linda Schottenstein who attended the event. “It truly was a perfect blend… It was informative, poignant, humorous, loving, entertaining, delightful, historical and more. It was such a fitting tribute to Gallery Players and the great people who were honored and every person who has ever been involved.”
Irene Braverman and Marvin Bonowitz both attended as the only surviving honorees. “It was a wonderful tribute to all the Legends,” says Anne Bonowitz, wife of Marvin Bonowitz. “Marv loved it and our son took many pictures which we can show him so he can relive the moment.” The families of Harold Eisenstein, Florence Zacks Melton, Bea Roth, and Lil Strouss also attended and accepted on behalf of their loved ones. The evening was particularly meaningful for those who knew the honorees, but even those who did not were touched by the performance.
Gallery Players began in 1948 when Florence Zacks Melton the Hadassah group she chaired formed a theater group in which Jews could comfortably take part. At the time, the local theaters would often deny Jewish and African-American actors the opportunity to audition or even attend productions. Shortly after Gallery Players moved to the College Avenue JCC in 1950, the group implemented an inclusive casting policy that did not discriminate based on race, religion or gender, making it the first of its kind in Central Ohio.
The Legends of Gallery Players honorees worked tirelessly for many years to make Gallery Players productions not only entertaining and high-quality, but thought-provoking and focused on Jewish culture as well. Gallery Players would not be what it is today without their contributions.
“[Everyone involved in Legends of Gallery Players] should take great pride in creating a program that will inspire and pay homage to those who love theater and Jewish culture,” says JCC President Benjamin Zacks. “The excellence we all strive to achieve was in full bloom that night.”