‘You can’t do that in Jerusalem!,” they stated emphatically. They were referring to the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, a show whose revival won six Tony Awards, including Best Revival, and which has been turned into an Academy award-winning film. Not the right fit for Jerusalem? I beg to differ.

As a ten-year resident of the city, it feels that change is finally in the air. With the Jerusalem Season of Culture firmly established and promoting high-quality cultural experiences each summer; the new Tachana bursting with activity and passers-by a full seven days a week; emerging fringe venues and companies such as Machol Shalem, Beit Mazia and Beit Hansen, rich cultural opportunities are infusing this ancient city with creative and fresh energy.

Beneath this now bustling surface is a vibrant subculture of more than a handful of English-language theater companies, each tailored to a unique genre or audience base. From the topsy-turvy operatic world of Gilbert and Sullivan, to the avant garde outdoor traveling Shakespeare, this city has it all. The community serves as a place of refuge for Olim and children of Olim, offering a supportive creative and social environment both on and off-stage. But the best kept secret about English-language theater in Jerusalem is the quality of local productions, far-surpassing what is known as community or amateur theater abroad. Indeed, much like other cultural events and venues in the city, Jerusalem English-language theater is finally coming of age, and is thus poised to enter the mainstream.

Such is the mission of Starcatcher productions, the brainchild of father-daughter team Jeff and Elianna Rosenschein. Committed to collaborating with existing companies in the city, Starcatcher’s primary goal is to introduce new audiences to high-quality musical theater. To do so, Starcatcher intends to produce new, progressive shows that may not have been previously staged here. So too is Starcatcher committed to developing and mentoring new talent, in order to create a flourishing, skilled creative community, with a focus on including veteran Israelis, who may not yet be familiar with the genre or with recent works.

The creative team behind Hairspray and Little Shop of Horrors (photo credit: Elle Jones)

The creative team behind Hairspray and Little Shop of Horrors (photo credit: Elle Jones)

Kicking this off is Starcatcher’s debut production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” opening this November during the Hanukkah season. A co-production in partnership with Jerusalem English Speaking Theater (JEST), this macabre satire touches on themes of materialism; consumerism, and the all-too-familiar longing for attention and fame. A blockbuster, the show features unforgettable songs like “Suddenly Seymour,” as well as the world’s largest and most infamous bloodthirsty plant.

Jerusalem residents and theatre aficionados deserve the same access to high-quality arts as their peers abroad, and the Israeli cultural scene is ripe for an infusion of contemporary works. In keeping with current cultural trends in the city, the next few years may well see Jerusalem, a city that has long served as the world’s spiritual heart, further inspire the world as a wellspring of cultural innovation, exploration and ingenuity.

Auditions for Little Shop will be held August 27 and 29 at 19:00 and 18:30, respectively, at the Nurit Katzir Theater.  For more information on Starcatcher or this production, see LittleShopJLM@gmail.com.

Flo Low served as the producer of Hairspray: Jerusalem in March 2013 and will be producing Little Shop of Horrors with Starcatcher and JEST this November.