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McKeever World Premiere Highlights JCC Theater Season

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“The Camp,” one of the newest works by South Florida wunderkind Michael McKeever (pictured), will enjoy its world-premiere production at the Levis JCC in Boca Raton just months after it debuted as a one-night-only staged reading at Lynn University.

The play is set in Germany in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Its title refers to the remnants of a concentration camp on the outskirts of a small village, whose elders—so-called “good Germans”—looked the other way while the Holocaust commenced beside them. Written with the pointed, vividly descriptive dialogue for which McKeever is known, the play addresses the complicity of average citizens during the rise of Fascism, a theme he found particularly timely.

“The Camp” provides the thought-provoking linchpin of the JCC’s 2017-2018 theater season, when it runs for 12 performances from Nov. 30-Dec. 17. Produced in conjunction with the West Boca Theatre Company, “The Camp” represents a coup for the intimate black-box theater, arriving just a few months after McKeever’s other 2017 world premiere, “Finding Mona Lisa,” bows at Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables.

“We knew this would be our dramatic historical production for the year,” says Alan Nash, director of theatre at the Levis JCC. “Myrna Loman [of West Boca Theatre Company] saw the reading at Lynn and said, ‘this is something special.’ Michael has a great foothold in South Florida, and he’s such a terrific guy.”

“The Camp” may be the attention-grabbing centerpiece of the Levis’ season, but the rest of the shows are no slouches. The ‘17-‘18 slate is arguably the venue’s most eclectic lineup yet, featuring a healthy balance of recent Tony-winning plays, familiar musicals and even a touring one-man show.

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A still from the Levis JCC’s previous production of “Driving Miss Daisy”

These include the scabrous comedy “God of Carnage” (Nov. 9-19); the absurdist Chekhov homage “Vanya & Sonia & Masha and Spike” (Jan. 4-14); “Wrestling Jerusalem” (Jan. 17-21, 2018), Aaron Davidson’s celebrated solo play about the Arab-Israeli conflict, performed by Davidson himself; the Stephen Sondheim masterpiece “Company” (Feb. 1-11, 2018); and “Handle With Care” (March 1-11), a romantic comedy with some Hebrew dialogue.

“We have a very defined audience at the Levis,” Nash says. “They love all sorts of things, everything from historical dramas to comedies and musicals. When we were programming for this year, we thought, ‘What can we give them that’s a little more sophisticated, a little more rounded?’”

If that means straying a bit from central themes about Judaism—with such universally targeted choices as “God of Carnage,” “Vanya & Sonia” and “Company”—that’s OK. “We want to make sure there’s light comedies and musicals we know people will love,” Nash says. “They’re great, enjoyable productions. All have won multiple Tony awards.”

Season and group tickets are available for the Levis JCC’s 2017-2018 season. Call 561/558-2520 or visit levisjcc.org/culture/music_theater. The theater is at 21050 95th Avenue S., Boca Raton.

As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.