Jewish Journal


July 27, 2006

Soccer on Sunday, Wickedly Wonderful


Soccer on Sunday

Talia Schrager loves soccer. She loves being able to run and kick and shout with other girls. Her mother, Sandra Lepson, loves the assertiveness and self-confidence the game inspired in her daughter.

But Talia, a second-grader at Beth Am's Pressman Academy on the Westside, knew it would all come to an end the season after she turned 8: The older teams in American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) play on Saturdays, when she's at shul, not on the field.

While Maccabi sports league offers games on Sundays in the winter (as opposed to AYSO's fall season), the teams are all coed and girls tend to drop out once they hit third or fourth grade. Talia wasn't interested.

Lepson did not want to see Talia lose soccer, especially the small, all-girl, well-coached teams she was used to. Lepson called in Miriam Prum-Hess, a Federation executive whose 7-year-old, Ezra, is also at Pressman and also loves soccer. After some research, they got in touch with Steve Stautzenbach, a volunteer who runs the Hollywood-Wilshire AYSO region.

It turns out that his region had been looking for a way to tap into the large Jewish population in the Fairfax and La Brea areas, and a deal was struck. Within weeks of word spreading that AYSO would offer a Sunday league, Lepson and Prum-Hess -- who now sits on the Hollywood-Wilshire AYSO Board -- had inquiries from more than 100 interested parents.

"While being shomer Shabbat means prioritizing our family's observance above other opportunities, I don't want my child to hate Shabbat because of what she can't do," Lepson said.

Registration for the Sunday league, open to children ages 7-12, is Sunday, July 30, 9 a.m.-noon at the auditorium at Pan Pacific Park, 7600 Beverly Blvd. (next to The Grove). Go to www.eayso.org to download forms. If you are interested in registering and cannot make it on July 30, e-mail mprumhess@earthlink.net.

-- Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor

Wickedly Wonderful

The Oztastic musical, "Wicked," will be back, saying, "There's no place like home," beginning Feb. 9, 2007, when a new production of the Broadway blockbuster begins an open run at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood.

The national tour of the Stephen Schwartz-Winnie Holzman hit, which tells the story of what happened in Oz before Dorothy dropped in, included a seven-week sold-out stop in Los Angeles last summer.

"It has been one of the most popular musicals not just to ever play at the Pantages, but to have ever been performed in Los Angeles," said Martin Wiviott, general manager of Broadway/L.A. -- local presenter of the show, which is moving its theatrical lineup from the Pantages to other L.A. venues.

The story of the "good" witch, Glinda, and the "wicked" witch, Elpaba, has even inspired singalongs, clothing and a line of cosmetics (in, of course, pink and green). So what is it about the Tony- and Grammy-winning musical that has audiences so spellbound?

"If you take a familiar story and you come at it from another point of view, the tension between the audience's preconception and the approach you're taking to the story adds an extra level of response," composer-lyricist Schwartz ("The Prince of Egypt") told The Journal in 2005, when "Wicked" flew into the Pantages for the first time.

As for those who just have to get tickets, you won't need a magic wand this time.

"We are planning to make Los Angeles a home for 'Wicked' as long as the public's demand for our show will allow," producer David Stone said.

"Wicked" will begin performances at the Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., beginning Feb. 9, 2007. $25-$88. At present, tickets are only available to subscribers of Broadway/L.A. by calling (866) 755-2929; or for groups of 15 or more by calling (866) 755-3075 or visiting www.broadwayla.org. For more information on the show, visit www.wickedthemusical.com/la.

-- Shoshana Lewin, Contributing Writer

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