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CenterStage Fans Fill JCC Auditorium to the Rafters to Celebrate 100 Years of Theater

(See full photo gallery of event at end of article)

With champagne, birthday cake, drinks and some outstanding performances, CenterStage, the oldest continuously operating theatre in Kentucky, kicked off its 100th season with a night to remember.

Some 300 attendees packed into the JCC’s Linker Auditorium for CenterStage’s 100th anniversary party on July 30.

The party was free and featured a full bar sponsored by Heaven Hill Distilleries, a giant birthday cake and a revue of the upcoming season with performances from Spring Awakening, Chicago and Fiddler on the Roof.Historical photos of CenterStage throughout the generations played across a screen on stage.

Margaret Brosko, ombudsman for Mayor Greg Fischer, presented a proclamation from the Mayor’s Office declaring July 30 as CenterStage Day.

“It’s official. It’s the law now,” she said.

Councilman Tom Owen, a noted local historian who works in the University of Louisville archives, presented information about CenterStage he’d found in old newspapers, including the first play that CenterStage ever produced. The company, known then as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association Players, presented Behind the Scenes on April 27, 1913, at the old YMHA at Second and Jacob Streets in downtown Louisville.

“It was very interesting for me to see the historical arc, from then to what you have here now,” he said.

Through the years, CenterStage has also been known as The Center Players and Heritage Theatre. Among well-known actors who have appeared in productions are Kentuckians Ned Beatty and Warren Oates. John R. Leffert took over as Artistic Director in 2000, gave the company the name CenterStage and has been instrumental in the theatre’s success over the last 14 years.

“It’s going to be a tremendous centennial year, truly worthy of CenterStage’s history and legacy for top-notch community theatre,” said John Leffert, CenterStage artistic director.

As the performances closed, Lenae Price, CenterStage Outreach manager, encouraged everyone to support CenterStage by becoming season subscribers. “Did you have fun?,” she asked the crowd.

A resounding applause erupted, answering in the affirmative.

Information about the 2014-15 season can be found at www.jewishlouisville.org/centerstage.

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