By Greg Stepanich
Alan Jacobson loved acting so much that he left the garment industry in his mid-30s to make the rounds of the off-Broadway theaters and the soap-opera casting calls of New York.
But before too long, he realized he’d rather be producing, and in 1991, he turned his hand to behind-the-scenes work. He’s produced dozens of shows throughout South Florida, including If You Ever Leave Me … I’m Going With You, which starred Joe Bologna and Renee Taylor, and his own Food Fight, which premiered at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre in 2007 and has since been renamed Waistwatchers: The Musical.
Jacobson also ran the Florida Jewish Theatre for five years, and this past December, he took over the old Florida Stage space in Manalapan and named it The Plaza Theatre.
“When I took the opportunity to take the space, I looked to see what the other theaters in Palm Beach County were doing, and wanted to try to do something different,” said Jacobson, 57. “I feel if we can create our own niche, then it’ll be good not just for us, but for the other theaters as well.”
The 252-seat theater in the Plaza del Mar shopping center opened in February with a revue starring Broadway veteran Donna McKechnie, and last month, it offered Jacobson’s ’50s jukebox show Music! Music! Music! This month, he’ll present a Kevin Black-penned revue of songs by Barry Manilow called I Am Music. It runs May 10-27.
“It’s got four fabulous singers, and four fabulous dancers,” he said, the hoofers being critical for Copacabana.
Next month, the theater mounts Don’t Rain on Our Parade, a tribute to Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler and Carole King (June 6-17), and The Way We Were, a tour of popular songs from the 1970s. Other shows on the horizon are Driving Miss Daisy (Nov. 2-18) and the 2010 Tony Award-winning musical Next to Normal (Jan. 17-Feb. 10).
Jacobson’s wife, Melissa, performs in the shows and also runs the theater’s conservatory.
They’re looking for donor support for the Plaza, which he said is crucial for its survival. And despite his current focus on jukebox musicals and revues, if the money was right, he said he’d go edgy.
“I’d do Angels in America in a heartbeat,” he said, referring to Tony Kushner’s 1993 epic chronicle of the AIDS crisis. “No one’s done it in South Florida.”
Tickets for I Am Music are $42. Call the box office at 588-1820 or visit www.theplazatheatre.net.
Music notes: The Grammy-nominated concert choir Seraphic Fire ends its 10th season with a concert of music from Baroque Latin America (7:30 p.m., May 10) at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Boca Raton. The choir will be returning to St. Gregory’s for a second season in October. Call 888-544-FIRE (3473), or visit www.seraphicfire.org.
Baroque music is also on the May calendar for Keith Paulson-Thorp’s series at St. Paul’s Episcopal in Delray Beach, when his Camerata del Re performs an all-Telemann concert at 4 p.m. May 20. Tickets are $15-$20. Earlier in the week, St. Paul’s welcomes the choir of Marywood University, a Catholic college in Scranton, Pa., which will give a free concert at 7 p.m. May 16. Call 278-6003 or visit www.stpaulsdelray.org.
Not far away at the Arts Garage, chamber musicians associated with the South Florida Symphony perform chamber music including the Trout Quintet of Schubert and the String Quintet No. 2 of Dvorak, both featuring pianist Jeffrey Chappell (7 p.m. May 6), and cellist Ian Maksin is joined by vocalist Susana Behar for a recital with crossover flavor (7:30 p.m. May 18).
The Gay Men’s Chorus of The Palm Beaches performs two shows (7:30 p.m. May 11-12) with widely varied music and an appearance by the Mandrews Sisters, and the Garage’s jazz series continues all month with percussionist Sammy Figueroa (8 p.m. May 5), saxophonist Troy Roberts and his Nu Jive Quartet (8 p.m. May 12), pianist Joe Negroni and his trio (8 p.m. May 19) and trumpeter Chris LaBarbera (8 p.m. May 26). Call 450-6357 or visit www.artsgarage.org.
And if you’re looking for something a little more reminiscent of an old-fashioned concert in the park on a holiday, then for Memorial Day it’s the Robert Sharon Chorale and the New Gardens Band in a free patriotic concert at 7 p.m. May 28 at Mizner Park Amphitheatre. Call 393-7984.
Art notes: In an unprecedented move, the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach has extended for a second time its showing of Bill Koch’s extensive Old West collection, Recapturing the Real West.
It’s the most successful show the Four Arts has mounted since its founding in 1936, society officials say, with more than 20,000 visitors since it opened Feb. 4.
The show will now run through May 13, and with an admission price of only $5, it’s a unique opportunity to see a vast trove of memorabilia that for the most part has not been seen anywhere else. Call 655-7226 or visit www.fourarts.org.
Meanwhile, the Boca Raton Museum of Art ends its exhibit of the works of the 100-year-old American master Will Barnet on May 20 (he turns 101 five days later), and on May 30 opens the 61st annual All Florida Juried Competition and Exhibition.
Curated this year by Valerie Oliver of the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, the exhibition will feature more than 100 works by Florida artists chosen from about 1,500 entries.
The juried show runs through July 8. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $8, and $6 for seniors, or you could go see the Barnet exhibit on May 19, which is International Museum Day, when admission is free. Call 392-2500 or visit www.bocamuseum.org.