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SSA Chanukah Playhouse Program

Event Date: 
Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm

 SSA Chanukah Playhouse Program (by Renee Kohanski)

On Thursday, December 22, we were treated to another Reinhard "Blockbuster" production at the "SSA Playhouse". And what a delight it was! "Disney Goes Hanukah", written by Marci Brumberg and adapted to Solomon Schechter Academy's unique requirements, thrilled its eagerly awaiting audience. Gerald Lebon, as usual, provided set-up and rehearsal support. Our wonderful emissary, Abir Shamriz, was invaluable in his help during the many weeks of preparations and for the evening's production, stepped into Gerald's rather large shoes! The production flyer, designed by Jonathan Dryden-Jaffe, was beautiful in all its color, fonts and descriptions. Set design by Nicole Naylor and the Schechter students was breathtaking! Sherri Morris, administrator extraordinaire, dutifully kept all the families reminded of the upcoming performance.

The show opens with an exacerbated Mrs. Reinhard once again at the 11th hour, trying to put together a masterpiece of a production. The part was played to perfection by Deniz Kayhan who even had Mrs. Reinhard's expressions and costuming down to a tee.  Rachel Goldstein, in the role of our beloved Mrs. Rosenberg, coffee cup in hand, as always, reassuringly calm in the proverbial rough seas. Leah Berke, in the role of Mrs. Ravenelle, always the cheerful optimist of the group was completely believable in her rendition of the character, entering just in the nick of time. Enter cameo appearances by Arielle Fommer and Hannah Linder singing "I Have a Little Dreidel" providing the "aha" moment for our distraught Schechter staff. Nice job Arielle and Hannah!

In our next scene, we find a very macho Greek played by Gavin Pressler, exercising in the gym. Reed Spitzer and Jack Morse fulfill the role of Jewish, Greek wannabees. In a moment of sheer, daring acting, they rip their robes to reveal their awesome work out suits. Tongue in cheek they belt out a Schechter version of Disney's "I Wanna Be Just Like You" from "The Lion King".

But all is not well as our play continues to depict the eternal struggle of the Jews. Maia Ross, acting in complete defiance of the powerful Greek, declares she will never bow down to a G-d other than our one true monotheist G-d. Jesse Antupit gives us a delightful rendition of a terrified, but comical Jew, who agrees to the demands of the Greeks if only "Please, don't kill me". Hannah Linder, now herself fearful of dying, backs up Jesse.

Enter Arielle Frommer, in character now, reminding everyone that Jews have the strength to stand up for their beliefs. Maia, also in character, then recites the words of the Sh'ma. Lauren Spitzer and Daniel Sapozhnikov stand behind them. This leads us into our next number - a take-off of the "Mickey Mouse Club"  with the "Maccabee Club" no less! The audience roared in appreciation to yet another clever pun. Our Maccabees, played by all the second and third graders, return in costume complete with "Maccabee" ears and have the audience singing along with them.

The narrators of our story (Mrs. R, R, and R), almost a Greek Trio in and of themselves, pop in and out throughout the production, linking the songs and sometimes disparate story lines. Somehow it all works and we segueway into the next scene, a take from Disney's "Aladdin". A distraught Judah, played by Jared Linder, can't figure out how on earth he will be the leader he needs to be. Judah finds a lantern, rubs it and out pops (yup you guessed it!) a Genie. The Genie, played by Matt Teeter, in an engaging anachronistic dialogue ("Hey dude, don't look so sad, what's your problemo") sets up the scene to help Judah grow into his role as new leader. Editor's note: Matt Teeter was ill on the day of the performance. Ever the trooper and in keeping with the show must go on, he played perfectly to the filled house. David Kohanski, much to his credit, gave up his recess to learn Matt's lines as a last minute understudy. Valuable life lessons were learned behind the scenes on this one.

Ariel Sapozhnikov, Noah Shafner, Mimi and Keri Doherty, Stephen Hyde, Dana Katz, David Kohanski, Lucy Rossi-Reder, Matt Teeter and Jared Linder all joined together in a captivating performance of the Maccabees as they struggled to support their leader, give him confidence and sang their hearts out to "Judah Maccabee" to the tune of "Prince Ali". We were all inspired by their song!

Our narrators step in again as we are all relieved at Judah's leading the Maccabees to victory, but sadly, the temple was destroyed in the process. As Maccabee David says, "This place is even worse than my room!" Deniz Kayhan, Jack Morse, Ariel Sapozhnikov, Noah Shafner, Mimi and Keri Doherty, Dana Katz, David Kohanski, Lucy Rossi-Reder, Jared Linder, Jesse Antupit, Hannah Linder, Maia Ross, Arielle Frommer, Daniel Sapozhnikov and Lauren Spitzer, who make up the Schechter choir, take to the stage. Our cast knows there's no such thing as fairy tales, but is there? Our audience now anticipating a fairy G-dmother is greeted by none other than our favorite fairy....Bubbe!! Dana and Mimi wonder if she can help? Fairy Bubbe, played by Keri Doherty, reminds everyone that we live our lives by the V'ahavta. She proceeds to sing a melodic version of Cinderella, making everyone believe all is possible. Her powerful voice carries the entire cast through this enchanting number.

No Disney creation would be even worth its weight in gold (or sugar...or oil) if we didn't have a Mary Poppins. Well, since this is Schechter, enter Miriam Poppinsky played convincingly by Leah Berke. She reminds us that a cruseful of oil can last eight nights (sung to a "Spoonful of Sugar").

The entire ensemble concludes the show with "Its Hanukah After All" sung to "It's a Small World After All". The Maccabees win, the mess is cleaned up and the miracle of lights commences.

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