10.31.14 Issue

by Ozzie Nogg

Noah’s Ark, a mini-musical featuring Residents of the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home and students from the Friedel Jewish Academy, will be presented on Friday, Nov. 14, at 1:30 p.m. in the Jewish Community Center Theater. The production, written and produced by Deborah Greenblatt and David Seay, is free and open to the entire community.

“In this original adaptation of the Flood and life on the Ark, seniors and students will sing great musical selections in a variety of styles, including blues, Cajun, calypso and Klezmer,” said Karen Menagh, RBJH Activities Director who chaired the project. “Students will be paired with Residents as they learn to express themselves through creative dramatics with professional artists. They will not only be acting partners, but friends and mentors to one another.”

Maggie Conti, Director of Activities and Outreach Programs at the Blumkin Home, worked with Menagh to help bring Noah’s Ark to the Campus. “The actual performance is part of a five-day artists-in-residency with Greenblatt and Seay scheduled for Nov. 10 through 14, 2014,” Conti explained. “Eleven students and ten Residents will participate in this intergenerational experience that will encourage team-building through designing a set, learning lines and simply being a part of musical theater.” Members of the Rose Blumkin Home Activities Department, the Volunteer Coordinator and Friedel staff will contribute their time to this project.  In addition, teen volunteers will work on set and costume design.

Multi-instrumentalists Deborah Greenblatt and David Seay — who work out of The Old Schoolhouse in Avoca, NE — have been performing together for over three decades and offer a variety of duo and solo performances and workshops. The world premiere of their Noah’s Ark was presented in the JCC theater in 1988, a date both Greenblatt and Seay found sadly ironic. “Our first performance of the Noah’s Ark mini-musical was staged exactly one hundred years after the 1888 School Teachers Storm here in Nebraska,” Greenblatt said. “That storm hit with little warning, while the children were in school. There are many stories of heroic school teachers in one-room schoolhouses who managed to save the lives of their students that day. And then there are other stories…”

During Greenblatt and Seay’s 2014 Noah’s Ark artists-in-residency, they will spend from one to two hours each day with the participants. “During the five days, Blumkin Home Residents and Friedel students will have the chance to meet with David and Deborah one-on-one and in groups,” Menagh said. “This mini-musical is an important way to introduce and unify the diverse Jewish age groups who share the Jewish Federation of Omaha campus, and we know Residents and students will benefit from their exposure to and interactions with each other and the professional artists. We consider this intergenerational program to be a gateway for more projects in the future that will allow the Jewish youth and elderly in our community to interact.”

The Noah’s Ark artists-in-residency and the Nov. 14 performance of the mini-musical are made possible with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment and the Esther K. Newman Memorial Fund of the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation.