West Side Story…Of The Arts


By: Eileen Alkabes Special to the Boca Newspaper

There is a new kind of “West Side Story” bubbling up in South Palm Beach County.

Rather than territorial brawls, however, this version depicts a community of organizations that support one another in an ever-growing focus on local arts and culture.

With the residential boom emerging west of the turnpike, and even west of 441, the demand for quality dining, shopping and entertainment has taken center stage, literally. No longer do west Boca residents have to go east of Interstate-95 to be entertained.

West Boca has become a hub for entertainment as well as passion, streamlining a bounty of events, classes, and programs in the upcoming months.

With Levis JCC’s Phyllis and Harvey Sandler Center at the forefront of this enriching movement, entities including Boca Black Box Center for the Arts, the Olympic Heights Performing Arts Theater, along with a myriad of others are symbiotically coordinating everything from renowned guest speakers to travel missions to thoughtful exhibitions and beyond.

Whether your interests include fine art, theater, literary events, film, comedy, or adult learning, these agencies are perpetuating a new standard and are piquing the interest of both local residents and those that reside far beyond county lines.

Beginning Feb. 1 and running through to March 3, The Sandler Center will be kicking off 2019 with its ode to the great Catskill Mountains.

With a robust calendar of events and a roster of special guests ranging from Steve Sands, who inspired Patrick Swayze’s character in Dirty Dancing, to Phil Brown, founder of the Catskills Institute, New York transplants will be name-dropping for miles as they take a walk down memory lane.

If it’s theater that takes the spotlight, then one can also find in February a night with Steven Levenson, the Tony Award Winning Playwright of Dear Evan Hansen, tickets even include the book.

With an ongoing run of big names to set the year off right, March 13 offers an evening with the iconic Isaac Mizrahi. Not only will he be discussing his career as a glamorous fashion designer, but he will also be delving into the more intimate details mentioned in his memoir, I.M.. If all that excitement weren’t enough, March also has scheduled the epic Judy Levis Markhoff Boca Raton Jewish Film Festival – a series of 40 thought-provoking films screened over three weeks.

If one finds the jam-packed schedule of programs stemming from the Sandler Center lacking at all (doubtful), they need only to look towards the JCC’s fellow cultural incubators. Boca Black Box Center for the Arts, the 275-seat venue, was created as a way to bring affordable entertainment in a comfortable New York style setting.

The experimental theater presents comedy, award-winning musicians, and even psychic mediums.  Throughout February, music lovers can find their groove with any of the Black Box’s featured tribute bands – celebrating artists from Simon and Garfunkel to Neil Diamond, and can even see the most acclaimed impersonation show in the world.  Just down the road the Award-Winning Olympic Heights Performing Arts Theater welcomes Stars of American Ballet on March 17, which offers a performance of top-notch choreography with principal and soloist-level dancers from major American companies.

For more information on ticketing and memberships, visit levisjcc.org/culture and bocablackbox.com.