Twenty years ago, the last episode of Seinfeld graced the airwaves and viewers said goodbye to Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer.
But of course, it wasn’t really goodbye as the sitcom has aired in reruns, and the hijinks of the famous foursome have continued to influence new generations.
The Weinberg Jewish Community Campus in Cherry Hill, N.J., is also celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
The overlapping anniversaries made a perfect fit for a celebration featuring Jason Alexander, who will appear at the Katz JCC — which is housed on the Community Campus’ grounds — on June 6, for “As Long As You’re Asking — A Conversation with Jason Alexander.”
“We’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Weinberg Community Campus. Twenty years ago, Seinfeld was one of the biggest hits on television. People of my generation and many others enjoyed it every week,” said Donna Bell, anniversary celebration chair and a Katz past president. “Now a whole new generation is enjoying the reruns and George Costanza, Jason, is a hit all over again with these people.”
That generational bridge has particularly apt meaning for the Weinberg Campus, she noted.
“He’s a versatile performer,” Bell said. “From Broadway to screen to TV, he’s been in our lives for many years, and he was the perfect pick for our campus since our cornerstone says generation to generation — that’s what we’re doing here with having Jason Alexander perform, from generation to generation, l’dor v’dor.”
The evening will consist of quite literally what the title suggests. In an interview with Jewish Community Voice, Alexander — a New Jersey native born Jason Greenspan — said there is no pre-planned format for the night. He will take questions from the audience on about a dozen or so topics the audience chooses from a list of 30, from Seinfeld to Judaism.
“Some of the topics are more blatantly entertaining,” he told the Voice. “There is a little music and a performance piece. I’ve been told that even the somewhat more serious topics are entertaining, too. There is something kind of fun about letting a group of people determine what they want to talk about.”
Bell said they are expecting about 500 people for the event, which she hopes will entice the entire community.
“I’m looking forward to seeing happy faces throughout the room, reminiscing and also looking to the future of 20 more successful years on our campus,” she said.
Tickets are available at katzjcc.org or by emailing Nancy Caporusso at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some Other Standout Jason Alexander Roles That Are Not George Costanza:
I was going to present this in no particular order, however, I changed my mind and decided that I must put the first one in its rightful place because more people need to understand how great this movie is. If you disagree with it, it’s only because you probably haven’t seen it.
- Lionel, Cinderella
If anyone can ask him about working on this film — and email me to know what he says — I will be forever grateful.
In the midst of live action remakes of just about every Disney classic — including a Cinderella in 2015 — the (only) one we should really be talking about is the 1997 version that starred Alexander in addition to Brandy, Whitney Houston, Bernadette Peters, Victor Garber and Whoopi Goldberg. It was beautifully diverse, not just by what we strive for in today’s standards, but especially so for the ’90s. Example: The prince was Filipino and his parents were Goldberg and Garber, who are most certainly not. How did that happen? Who cares! The characters’ races and ethnicities were not part of the plot; they just simply existed.
Additionally, the score — thank you, Rodgers and Hammerstein — stood out particularly because of the talent of the performers. A shining example of this comes from none other than Alexander himself, who is able to show off his Broadway chops here. As Lionel, sporting a goatee and an implacable accent, he sings a standout “The Prince is Giving a Ball” and bumbles along, dodging wedding cakes and avoiding getting trapped in dress fabrics as the kingdom rejoices at the celebration announcement.
- Narrator, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway
To be sure, Alexander might rank this one higher, as this role won him a casual Tony Award for best leading actor in a musical in 1989, but I’m sticking with my answer. However, this role certainly deserves a shout out because, hello, it won him a Tony. His stage career kicked off at 20 years old with Merrily We Roll Along, which was on Broadway but flopped and closed after 12 days. That didn’t flop his stage aspirations, which also led to starring in The Rink alongside Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera. Most recently, he was in The Portuguese Kid last fall.
- Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
So it wasn’t a physical role, but Alexander voiced one of the animated gargoyles in the criminally underrated The Hunchback of Notre Dame. As Hugo — along with Victor (get it? Victor Hugo? Anyway.) and Laverne — he provided some comic relief to the beautiful but rather dramatic tale that probably scarred many children because Frollo is actually quite frightening.
- Albert Peterson, Bye, Bye, Birdie
Alexander got to show audiences his theatrical background — perhaps for the first time — in this 1995 TV movie co-starring Vanessa Williams and Chynna Phillips. Since most people were familiar with Alexander as Costanza at this point, they might have been surprised to see him sing and dance. But, as a 1995 Entertainment Weekly article noted, “this is the real Alexander.”
- Philip Stuckey, Pretty Woman
I’m ranking this one last only because while the film is a classic and Alexander was convincing, his character was trash. Whether it’s because of Julia Roberts’ independent and savvy Vivian or Richard Gere in general, surely you do not need me to explain why it has stuck around for so long. However, Alexander’s character — as Gere’s character Edward’s lawyer — we can all agree, was a big ol’ slimeball. But, that being said, Alexander was great in it.