the influence of Jewish Artists on Musical Theatre

Have you ever wandered who writes most of the musicals you've always loved? JEWS! That's who!  Join us for a fun evening  of great entertainment with the wonderful Shirley Politzer OAM on piano joined by raconteur, Maxine Appel-Cohen. Discover the enormous impact Jewish artists have made on musicals and find out  surprising and untold Jewish facts behind the worlds most loved musicals, like Les Miserables, Fiddler, West Side Story, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and much more. And so many Jewish performers -  such as Barbra Streisand, Sammy Davis Junior (yes - he was Jewish!) Ethel Merman (was she Jewish?), Bette Midler and Al Jolson.  Learn about Jewish composers and lyricists like Leonard Bernstein - who loved Israel and Stephen Sondheim whose mother regretted giving birth to him.  There's George Gershwin and Irving Berlin and of course Rogers and Hammerstein. All this with the glorious songs played by Shirley and an incredibly detailed slide show!! 



Maxine is an Intensive Care Nurse having worked both in ICU and operating theatres. But as much as she loved her nursing career her true love is in a different theatre - the theatrical kind!! Back in South Africa she wrote several plays which were produced at the Grahams-town Festival. She won the Amfest Award for best upcoming play-wright and also won the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award. 

Since moving to Australia she and Di Kuchar co-wrote and performed "Chocolate, Change and Skim Flat White - a quasi-musical in the key of “OY FLAT!” which enjoyed great success in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth with wonderful reviews, raising in excess of $30,000 for charities.  

Her latest play, “Holes in their Souls” was first read at the Ensemble Theatre and more recently at B’nai B’rith to a standing ovation. Maxine is thrilled to be performing again with Shirley and her message to you is: "Have fun and sing like no one is watching or listening!"

Shirley is now semi retired but was a preschool to year 12 classroom music teacher for over 30 years as well as also having a private instrumental teaching studio at home for piano, flute and theory students.


is well known in the Sydney Jewish Community for her many and varied performances entertaining and accompanying mostly on piano, and occasionally on flute. She has held music roles as producer, director, conductor, music arranger, accompanist, choral singer and orchestral flautist for many groups. She was the original Associate Musical Director of the Sydney Jewish Choral Society.

After her retirement from classroom teaching 14 years ago, Shirley trained to be a Scout Leader. She runs the meetings and activities at the 3rd Rose Bay Jewish Scout Group in Bondi for girls and boys who are 5-8 years old.

Shirley has received several Awards: Australia Day 2008 Scroll of Honour from Waverley Council for "Services to the Waverley Community"; In 2008 and 2016 she received awards for outstanding service to the Scout Association. In the 2010 Australia Day Awards, Shirley was honoured with an OAM for her contribution to

the Scouting Movement, her long term fundraising for the Jewish National Fund, and work in music which particularly includes entertaining Senior Citizens and performing at Jewish communal functions like Yom HaShoah. 

More recently Shirley has become one of the reviewers for shows for the online Jewish news service J-Wire.


"This was such fun from beginning to end - but I didn’t want it to end!!  - ROSE LEVINE

“Oh my goodness - DON’T MISS THIS! If you love musicals - and who doesn’t  - you’ll be amazed at the fascinating facts and information from your favourite musicals that you didn’t know - all  brilliantly told by Maxine Appel- Cohen (with a fascinating slide show) and live music (Shirley Politzer on Piano) - Mike Cohen

"Just fabulous and original - do it again!  My mother and I all our friends just loved it! "  - Merry Anstey. 

“You go to musicals - you enjoy them, but you hardly ever know who creates them.  JEWS!  Who knew? Not me!!   - Ray Smith

“My husband and I loved, loved, loved this …. it’s amazing.  DON”T MISS THIS” - J. Levy

“So fantastic hearing all those songs again and learning about the history of the musicals I have loved all my life. Sound of Music, Les Mis, West Side Story,  Fiddler etc. etc. etc. Congrats." Leanne Stern.

"This was such a treat. I didn’t realise how influential Jews have been in all these popular musicals. All those songs bring back a flood of memories.' - J. Levine.

"I sang all the way home!!! What fun! What an original script and so beautifully told. LOVED EVERY MOMENT. Didn’t want it to end!!!!"  Des Kaplan.

"I was deeply moved by the description of 'Somewhere over the Rainbow" and the reference to the Holocaust."