Beth Sholom Village to add performance stage to its active community room

September 8, 2017

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The Abisl Theater will present entertainment with a “Jewish Twist”

It has hosted everything from bingo games to women’s auxiliary lunches, but by summer 2018, what is known today as The Pincus Paul Social Hall, named for a late benefactor, will also house the area’s newest performance space.

Nestled inside the Berger-Goldrich Home at Beth Sholom Village in the College Park section of Virginia Beach will be The Abisl Theater at Beth Sholom Village: Music, Comedy, and Stage plays with a Jewish Twist. In Yiddish, a Jewish language that shares its roots in German and Hebrew, “abisl” means “a little,” and that’s what the new theater will be, a right sized setting for intimate performances.

“There will be singing and dancing, stand-up and improv, and at least one staged play each year based on a Jewish theme,” says Steve Suskin, director of philanthropy at Beth Sholom Village, who also happens to be a part-time actor and occasional director at “little theater” productions in Hampton Roads. Skukskin was previously development director at the Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk. “The space, which can hold from 80 to 150 persons based on seating, is perfect for shows that primarily appeal to a Jewish audience, but not exclusively,” says Suskin.

Food will also be part of the fare at The Abisl Theater as Beth Sholom showcases the excellent cuisine it provides for its residents and through its catering department. “There will be a ‘dinner theater’ atmosphere at some performances, featuring either full meals or ‘abisl’ (tapas type) offerings plus beer, wine, and spirits,” says Suskin.

The Village has recruited a diverse committee of local individuals with interest in the arts to contribute ideas on programming, marketing, and staging. After two meetings, the energy is high. “I love Abisl,” says Madi Rossettini, who has directed musicals and other theater productions. “It connects what we are doing to our Jewish heritage, and it’s fun.”

Susan Eilberg, a past director of the Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, appreciates the diversity of acts the theater can host. “We can bring in performers from outside the area, but I really like the opportunity this can present for local people to share their talents.”

Former talent agent Bobby Levin is happy to be part of the planning. “Jewish culture is so rich. A new stage to present it is always a good thing.”

It will be next spring or summer before The Abisl welcomes its first audience, although Suskin says there will likely be a sneak preview of what it has to offer later this year. “In the meantime we have dedicatory options in the theater, and I would love to talk to anyone interested in associating the name of their company or family with this wonderful new addition to the community,” says Suskin. “And if you have some stage experience, I want to talk to you, too.”

Contact Steve Suskin at 757-420-2512 ext. 402 or ssuskin@bethsholomvillage.com.

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