Pros come together for Emanu-El

 

Bill Hindin has performed under the bright lights of New York and on large cruise ships, but the Shorewood native seems just as happy playing the piano at Ovation Chai Point, 1400 N. Prospect Ave.

“That’s the greatest job I have now,” said Hindin, who has lived and worked as a musical director/arranger/conductor/pianist in New York for the past 40 years. “I love helping people forget about their troubles for a while. I get a wonderful feeling every time I do Chai Point. One year I mentioned that my parents liked Stardust, and all these older people sighed because all of a sudden they were young and in love again.”

Bill Hindin was the musical director for an off-Broadway romantic comedy written by Rena Strober.

Hindin is among the four people from around the country who will be performing on Sunday, June 3, at Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun in its 16th annual Salute to Song & Spirit Concert, titled Broadway & Beyond, Act 2. The concert will begin at 5 p.m., and also will include vocalist Rena Strober from Los Angeles, Cantor Stewart Figa from West Suburban Temple Har Zion in River Forest, Ill., and Cantor David Barash from the host synagogue.

Figa, an established performer in Yiddish and Jewish music, replaces Cantor Perry Fine from Livingston, N.J., who was injured in May when he fell from a ladder and couldn’t perform.

Hindin, 64, is a 1972 graduate of Shorewood High School and went on to Northwestern University before “following a lot of my friends to New York in the late 1970s.” He remembers that whenever any of the friends would go back to visit Milwaukee, “they were expected to bring brats back with them.”

He has performed with stars such as John Davidson and Rosemary Clooney, and was musical director for “Spaghetti & Matzo Balls,” an off-Broadway romantic comedy written by Strober.

Hindin returned to Milwaukee between 2011 and last year to care for his ailing parents and would attend services at CEEBJ with them. He met Barash and took part in some services.

Strober, “a New York Borscht Belt kid” born in Middletown, N.Y., moved to Los Angeles about eight years ago to work in animation as a voice actor. “I love New York, but had spent about a decade in off-Broadway and needed a little break from eight shows a week,” she said.

Rena Strober made her Broadway debut as Cosette in Les Miserables.

Her parents supported her choice of profession, so much that they encouraged her to continue on her entertainment path when in 2001 she suggested, “Maybe I should go to cantorial school and get a real job.”

Instead, her job became creating an impressive resume of theater, television, concerts and recordings. She made her Broadway debut as Cosette in “Les Miserables.”

She and husband Jon Weinberg, a filmmaker, have a 1-year-old daughter, Isadora, whose first trick was learning to clap for her mother.

The 15 previous concerts at CEEBJ, which have included performers such as Rick Recht, Josh Nelson and Neshama Carlebach, have raised more than $500,000 for the synagogue under the direction of Barash with the help of donors and a music committee.

It can be tricky for four people living far apart to organize a concert, but they got together in Los Angeles over Mothers Day weekend for group rehearsals, they have done conference calls, put music in dropboxes, etc. “We’re all pros so it comes together easily,” said Hindin, adding that the audience will hear selections from Leonard Bernstein, “West Side Story,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Gershwin” and “Les Miserables.” There will be several pieces written by Jewish composers from Broadway.

“When you are this far into a career, you have sung them all,” Strober said.

Hindin calls Strober “the real deal. The audience will love her.”

Strober, who has worked as a cantorial soloist in Los Angeles-area synagogues, is looking forward to her first trip to Milwaukee.

“I have known and loved Bill for so long that it means a lot to me to come to Milwaukee to perform with him at a temple that means so much to his family,” she said.

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How to go

What: 16th annual Salute to Song & Spirit Concert – Broadway & Beyond, Act 2

Who: Cantors David Barash and Stewart Figa, musical director Bill Hindin and vocalist Rena Strober

Where: Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun, 2020 W. Brown Deer Road, River Hills

When: Sunday, June 3, 5-7 p.m.

Ticket prices: $54 reserved, $36 adult general admission, $18 student general admission

For more information: Ceebj.org