Amherst Community Theatre, Yiddish Book Center welcomes visitors again with new events and programs

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on musical groups, theater companies, dance troupes and others over the past two years. But many have now returned to live shows – and now it’s the turn of Amherst Community Theatre.

ACT, which presented its last performance, “Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical,” in January 2020, will present its new show, “Broadway Melody,” a musical concert of Broadway songs, on April 29 at 7 p.m. and April 30 at 2 p.m. at Amherst Regional Middle School.

That same weekend, the Yiddish Book Center on the Hampshire College campus, which reopened last year for limited visits, will celebrate the New Year with a ‘Community Day’ of free events on May 1, including including the opening of a new photography exhibition.

Amherst Community Theater productions have typically been staged at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Bowker Auditorium in January, an option no longer available since “Matilda,” a musical adaptation of the story of Roald Dahl of the same name, was performed there in early 2020.

So this year, the group wanted to “give opportunities to singers while giving back to the community” by performing the new show in the college auditorium.

“Broadway Melody” is directed by Kimberly Overtree Karlin, with musical direction by Cindy Naughton, and features 35 actors. It’s a “stunning combination of eclectic community theater, both contemporary and vintage, with “singers of all ages,” according to the press notes.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 10 and under and can be purchased at the door (cash or check only). Proof of COVID vaccination (or a negative PCR test within the last 72 hours) is required for all members of the public aged 5 and over. Masks are also required for all members of the public aged 2 and over. For additional questions, call Sam Karlin at (413) 265-8900.

At the Yiddish Book Center, meanwhile, the free May Day Community Day will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will include a number of events, including the opening of “Roots, Resilience and Renewal — A Portrait of Polish Jews, 1975-2016”, an exhibition of the work of photographer Chuck Fishman. He first traveled to Poland as a student in search of what was left of Jewish life and culture in a country that had been devastated by the Holocaust.

Later, as a professional photojournalist, Fishman returned to Poland for nearly four decades, and his black-and-white photographs speak “to themes of resilience and renewal, exploring and elucidating the myriad faces and facets of recovery and of regeneration,” as the press notes put it.

In other programs, Rachelle Grossman, Book Center Bibliography and Collections Manager, will give a behind-the-scenes look at some of the rare books in the collection, and a short film will be screened with selected interviews that are part of the the center’s Wexler Oral History Project, focusing on women’s contributions to Yiddish culture; a Q&A session follows with project director Christa Whitney.

And at 2 p.m., Professor Allison Schachter of Vanderbilt University will give a talk on the role women play in the making of Jewish “modernity” by showcasing the women writers, artists, and intellectuals who have helped transform culture. Jew in the 20th century.

This conference will be broadcast live and reservations for the conference can be made at

All visitors to the bookstore over the age of 12 must present proof of COVID vaccination and have received a booster. Vaccinations are also mandatory for eligible children; children under 5 are admitted to the building unvaccinated. Visitors are also required to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing requirements to protect their safety and the safety of others.

Steve Pfarrer can be contacted at [email protected]

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