The Jewish Community Alliance (JCA) of Jacksonville presented “The Broadway Cabaret – The Jewish Legacy” on November 11, 2017. The production, starring Mitchell Wohl, was an event staged during Discover Culture – a Jewish Literary, Film, and Arts Festival and was designed for all ages. The performance opened with an introduction by Shelly Higgins Hughes, JCA’s Director of Theatre & Dance Programming.

Mitchell Wohl is a well known local actor who first appeared in musicals as a child on JCA’s stage. He appeared in three musicals at Paxon School for Advanced Studies and graduated from the University of Florida in 2014. Recent appearances have included “City of Angels” at Players by the Sea, “The Hot L Baltimore” at Phase 8, and “The Miracle Worker” at Theatre Jacksonville.

The Cabaret show explored the contributions of Jewish composers and lyricists to the creation of American musical theatre.  Mitchell opened the evening with a rousing patriotic song for Veteran’s Day: Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” He presented some fifteen songs during the revue, introducing each one with a short preface. 

Some of the crowd-pleasing selections included “Maria” from “West Side Story” (Leonard Bernstein); “Miracle of Miracles“from “Fiddler on the Roof” (Jerry Bock); and “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from “Oklahoma” (Richard Rogers & Oscar Hammerstein II).

Mitchell was joined for three numbers by Erica Villanueva. We especially enjoyed this duet singing “I’ve Been Waiting for Someone Like You” from “The Last 5 Years” (Jason Robert Brown). Miss Villanueva has previously appeared in a number of cabarets and has been active in JCA’s musical theatre programs.

Mitchell was also joined by well-known local actor Craig Wickless in two lively duets: “We Can Do It” from “The Producers” (Mel Brooks), and “Agony” from “Into The Woods” (Stephen Sondheim). Craig also contributed a well-received version of “Shiksa Goddess” from “The Last Five Years.” The performers finished up the evening together with a high-spirited “Give My Regards to Broadway” (George M. Cohan).

The event was free and open to the public, and all that great music was preceded by a light nosh, wine, and beverages. JCA’s Cultural Festival is an annual event which begins in November, and includes film screenings, lectures, and a book festival showcasing renowned authors; all events are free. The last event of the current festival will be a book discussion of “My Jewish Year” by author Abigail Pogrebin on January 24, 2018. See for additional information.

The full house audience gave Mr. Wohl and his guest singers a standing ovation at the evening’s conclusion. We appreciate JCA’s performance programming, and hope to see and hear more from these three talented vocalists in local musical theatre productions.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.