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Santa Monica Playhouse, in Santa Monica, is celebrating their 50th Anniversary Festival of Theatre. As a part of the festival they are presenting the return engagement of an original Jewish musical, Backstreet, written by Chris DeCarlo, Evelyn Rudie and Matthew Wrather, with words and music by Rudie and Wrather. Backstreet had its world premiere at the Playhouse in 1998. The production is directed by Chris DeCarlo, with musical direction by Serena Dolinsky.

The play takes place in a New York ghetto around 1905 and tells the story of young Jewish girls who work in a house of disrepute. The man who runs the house is known as Uncle (Chris DeCarlo) aided by the charming "Mother" Livya (Evelyn Rudie). Under the circumstances, Uncle is very protective of his young daughter Rayzl (Arielle Davidsohn) and decides Rayzl will marry a man of his choosing. Because Raizl has fallen in love with Eli (Brad Geyer), she refuses to accept her father's decree. Will Livya and the Backstreet Ladies be able to save Rayzl's fate in life or will "Uncle" prove to be stubborn and not allow Rayzl the happiness she desires?

The rest of the cast includes Vanessa Cate, Carolyn Freeman Champ, Serena Dolinsky, Melissa Gentry, James Hassett and Lauren Marr. The absolutely scrumptious costumes and magnificent hats worn by the ladies from Backstreet are the work of Ashley Hayes and Cheryl Jennings as well as the period costumes worn by the men. The music and lyrics are well-written and give the production a capricious touch.

Since the Santa Monica Playhouse opened in 1960, it has been a home for Jewish theatre in Los Angeles. Its Jewish Heritage Program offers Jewish theatre and education with critically acclaimed premieres such as Author! Author!, an evening with Sholom Aleichem (the longest-running Jewish musical in Los Angeles theatre). Over 200 artists have been a part of Jewish Heritage events, including Annie Reiner, Brenda Krantz, Barbara Minkus, Connie Stevens, Jerry Mayer, Milton Berle, Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna, Sammy Shore and Harpo and Bill Marx.

Backstreet will continue through June 20. Ticket prices include a complimentary coffee and dessert buffet at intermission. For tickets and group sales, call the Playhouse Box Office at (310) 394-9779, ext. 1.