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Agenda: The Phantom Tollbooth turns 50, Shoah in Chicago, Art! in Jerusalem, the comedian Jewmongous, and more

Stephanie Butnick
December 02, 2011

Agenda is Tablet Magazine’s weekly listing of upcoming cultural events.

New York: Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer’s beloved children’s book The Phantom Tollbooth turns 50 this year, with a sold-out birthday party at the 92Y proving its enduring lovability. Celebrate, sort of, Stalin, with John Hodge’s oddly intriguing new play, Collaborators, about a dissident writer commissioned to write a play for the dictator’s 60th birthday (Dec. 2, 7 p.m., $25). Start the weekend with a visit to The Duplex tonight in the West Village, where New Jersey native and rising star Rachel Millman will be singing, accompanied by keyboardist Daniel A. Weiss (Dec. 2, 9:30 p.m., $10). Then on Saturday, for a reminder of the challenges facing Jewish musical stars of yesteryear, go see Samson Raphaelson’s play The Jazz Singer before it closes next weekend (Dec. 3, 3 p.m., 8 p.m.; Dec. 4, 3 p.m., $22). Or, stick around after Millman’s set, and see if the raven-haired chanteuse might join you.

The Heist Project premieres a one-woman dance show featuring works by five international choreographers, including the Israeli-born Idan Sharabi, a member of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, this weekend (Dec. 2, Dec. 3, 8 p.m., $25). The Alvin Ailey dance theater begins a nine-show run of Minus 16, a work by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, starting next Friday (Dec. 9, 8 p.m., $25 and up).

On Sunday, prep for the season—however you spend it—with Julie Weiner, the Jewish Week’s “In The Mix” columnist, who’s scheduled to discuss holiday tips for interfaith families at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (Dec. 4, 11 a.m., free). Alternately, prep for your inevitably harrowing December travel on Tuesday, at a showing of Je T’aime, I Love You Terminal, an Israeli love story that begins as a young man waits for a flight at the Prague airport. The screening at the JCC in Manhattan includes a discussion with Dani Menkin, the film’s director (Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m., $11).

Elsewhere: In Connecticut, Jonathan Adler is opening one of his whimsically chic home-décor stores in Greenwich. But will the shop feature items found in the “Haute Hannukah” collection? (One dachshund menorah, please.) In San Francisco, the Tikva Records pop-up store opens, stocked with Jewish records and hosting very groovy events through the end of December, when it shuts down. On Sunday, Basya Schecter leads her band, Pharaoh’s Daughter, in a concert sponsored by Denver, Colo.’s Mizel Museum, in conjunction with an art sale (Dec. 4, 1 p.m., $25). Because nine hours couldn’t contain the entirety of the material Claude Lanzmann collected for his seminal, long 1985 film, there is Shoah: The Unseen Interviews. It will be screened twice this week in Chicago. The Wednesday screening at the Chicago Public Library is sold out—there will be a standby line for unclaimed tickets—but Tuesday’s Glencoe screening isn’t, yet (Dec. 6, 7 p.m., free).

Abroad: Jerusalem’s black box theater, Way Off Productions, puts on Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award-winning play, Art!,with eight performances through the end of December (Dec. 3, Dec. 6, Dec. 8, 8 p.m., $13). For the children, Truly Scrumptious is a mini-musical featuring unrelentingly catchy songs and the kind of fantastical plotline accepted only in children’s entertainment (Dec. 8, 8 p.m., $21). This weekend’s Jacob’s Ladder Festival in northern Israel features a smattering of international musicians—and an American comedian who goes by the name Jewmongous.

Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.