Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company celebrates organization’s 20th season

December 17, 2014 - accent chair



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    Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company owner Barbara Brooks greeted children after “The Chanukah Guest” during Highland Park Community Center.

    Photo: LEILA NAVIDI • leila.navidi@startribune.com,

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    Barbara Brooks likes to contend she had dual babies during a same time.

    One was her son Mathew, innate in 1994. The other was a Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company.

    Twenty years later, her son is a comparison in college, while her museum association has spin one of a longest-running eccentric Jewish theaters in a country.

    The 5-foot-1-inch Brooks is a outsized force obliged for a maturation of both.

    With no knowledge in using an organization, an ascending conflict convincing supporters of her prophesy and a enterprise to equivocate a “Fiddler on a Roof”s of a Jewish canon, Brooks managed to spin her melodramatic baby into a Twin Cities stalwart.

    “This is kind of a small engine that could,” pronounced James M. Rosenbaum, MJTC’s house chair. “It’s not formed on a happening a museum has. [Brooks] is a engine that runs this and creates it happen. She’s a conspicuous woman.”

    The suspicion for MJTC was innate during 11 months spent with her son in a rocking chair.

    “I was a kind of mom that suspicion we shouldn’t be examination TV. So your mind wanders, and we only started meditative of how opposite it was as a Jewish person,” Brooks said.

    The New York City (Queens) local had grown adult in a village that felt “99.9 percent Jewish,” she said. A connoisseur procedure in song therapy during a University of Minnesota brought her to a Midwest — and outward of her comfort zone.

    “I beheld a vivid differences between New York and here,” she said. Then, a co-worker during her part-time pursuit told her that she had never met a Jew before.

    “It was a strangest thing,” Brooks pronounced in her thick and quick East Coast accent. “Who would even contend that?”

    She beheld a miss of informative sell between Jews and non-Jews, and she wondered if she could assistance move people together by a arts.

    Meanwhile, her impasse in Judaism had been waning. She had grown adult observant, though as an adult in Minnesota, was eccentric with a synagogue. She common that undo with augmenting numbers of Jews.

    “And we thought, maybe museum could yield this event for Jewish people to be in touch.”

    Contemporary, not kitsch

    By open of 1995, Brooks had mounted and acted in MJTC’s initial play, “A Shayna Maidel” by Barbara Lebow, during Cretin-Derham Hall, a Catholic high school. Most of a 50-odd productions given have played in a theater’s stream home, a Highland Park Community Center in St. Paul.

    The tour to apropos one of a country’s longest-running eccentric Jewish theaters was understandably formidable to navigate.

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