From June ’07 Spotlight: All hail Dori Berinstein, the entertainment world’s new “Renaissance Woman.” Producer/director Berinstein began her artistic career as an uncredited production executive on the film version of Dirty Dancing in 1987. After several more films and many award-winning Broadway productions, the bicoastal Berinstein has combined her two loves in the new doc ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway.

Despite her incredibly busy schedule, Dori and I had a relaxed phone chat. “I grew up in LA loving theater,” she told me. “I was so fortunate; my parents took me to theater all the time. I always loved movies too, but theater was so vivid, so transporting, it captured me. I knew early on that I had absolutely no talent whatsoever to ever be on stage, so clearly I was going to have to find a way to be involved behind the curtain.”

ShowBusiness focuses on the 2004 season, and Jeff Marx (who wrote music and lyrics for Avenue Q), is prominently featured. One background clip caught my eye immediately, so I asked Dori when it was taken. “It was Jeff’s Bar Mitzvah, you bet,” she said. And Idina Menzel (the Tony-winning star of Wicked)? “Absolutely Jewish,” Dori replied. “Idina [also] grew up developing her musical talent by singing at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.”

So what is Dori’s explanation for the affinity between Jews and musical comedy? “Theater makes you think and theater makes you feel,” she said. “There’s a long, very wonderful history of Jews being involved in this art form, and having used it to create change in the way people see the world. It’s also just an inspiring, transporting art form, so what’s not to love?”

ShowBusiness opens at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre on Southport on June 8. For details, visit: Two nights later, on Sunday, June 10, Dori will be at the 61st Annual Tony Awards with her new team from Legally Blonde: The Musical (nominated for seven awards including Best Book, Best Original Score, and Best Leading Actress).

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