Axelrod Performing Arts Center Closes - The Jewish Voice
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Axelrod Performing Arts Center Closes

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Premises Unavailable Due to JCC Bankruptcy

After five years of producing award-winning community musicals and much-needed programming including outstanding film festivals, jazz concerts, classical music events, Jewish community commemorations, Israeli culture, youth programming and so much more, the Axelrod Performing Arts Center (APAC) has gone dark after the final performance of the musical “Cabaret“ on November 18, 2012. The building that once was the flourishing Ruth Hyman Jewish Community Center (JCC), which houses the magnificent APAC theatre, must be closed as per Ocean Township and the court-appointed trustee due to code-violations and repairs that are required. The JCC remains in bankruptcy and the facilities will soon be up for sale. To the many people who attend performances at APAC and the community volunteers who have made these presentations possible, these developments are very sad as APAC has been growing in quality and popularity in the community. Employees of the APAC and the cultural arts community will be impacted greatly. The Axelrod Performing Arts Center 501c3 organization is considering moving it’s programming to offsite locations, with the hope that the theater will again become available.

Known for top programming in the State of New Jersey, APAC offered a diversity of entertainment that is rare in this area. Broadway stars including Brian Stokes Mitchell, Marin Mazzie, Liz Callaway and Christine Ebersole; jazz greats like Dick Hyman and John Pizzarelli; Israeli stars such as Idan Raichel and Rami Kleinstein, and luminaries of classical music like Elmar Olivera have all graced the APAC stage. Senior groups have travelled to the Axelrod PAC from around the region to enjoy the entertainment. A very successful youth performing arts program will be missed by the entire community.

Center Drama, whose home has been in the JCC for over 70 years, has been presenting musicals on the APAC stage for the past five years. The quality of Center Drama’s productions of “South Pacific,” “The Wedding Singer,” and ” 42nd Street” has been recognized by the New Jersey Association of Community Theatres (JCACT). In 2012 “42nd Street” received five “Perry awards” and 13 nominations from NJAC. Numerous community groups, including Cabaret for Life, educational and cultural institutions, and dance schools have counted on the theater as an ideal venue to present recitals, films, concerts and musicals. The “Gallery on Grant,” which provided space for NJ painters, sculptors and photographers, will be missed by the Jersey Shore arts community.

Jess Levy, CEO of APAC, acknowledges the namesake of the facility, Dr. Herbert and Evelyn Axelrod, whose generosity and continued support have made the Axelrod Performing Arts Center possible. “Through the Axelrod’s significant capital campaign donations and their ongoing annual support, the entire shore community has benefited significantly thanks to their philanthropy and leadership. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.” Levy also wishes to give special thanks to Sheldon and Anne Vogel who have made significant contributions. “Through the Vogel’s ongoing support, Center Drama has continued into the 21st century.” Likewise, Matrix Corporation, under the leadership of Donald Epstein, designed and built the theater and provided significant funding to complete this state-of-the-art theater, which is now sadly going dark.

The staff at APAC has been incredible and the volunteer support from our Board has been a labor of love, without them we would not have achieved our mission to “foster artistic excellence and creating an appreciation of our diverse communities through the pursuit of the arts.” Levy also wishes to thank the many talented individuals who have performed on our stage and the directors, producers, and designers whose incredible work behind the scenes made Center Drama productions at APAC the most professional community theatre in the area.

The loss of the Axelrod Performing Arts Center will impact the whole community on the Jersey Shore. Levy and the APAC Board hope that the facility will become available once again to our organization so that APAC can continue to provide great entertainment. There are no guarantees that this will be possible, and the Axelrod Board is considering continuing some of our programming off site. The APAC website will keep patrons posted with any developments in the coming months.

Levy concludes, “Finally, on behalf of the Axelrod Board, I want to thank every member of our audience for your trust, patronage, support, and encouragement. Your enjoyment of our programs has brought us much joy and your support of the arts has enabled the Axelrod PAC to thrive.”

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