Was That Purim, or What?
Beth Tzedec
May 15th 2013

Well, many thought it the best show yet. 

With Purim being early (our things are always early or late), the wizards (Cantor Simon and Aliza Spiro) pulled off a spectacular coup: A gallop through the very best of the last seven years, moving from Disney to Vegas and the Wild West, the Austrian Alps, and passing through the Roaring Twenties on the way to Scandinavia, courtesy of the music of Abba.

The entire Toronto Jewish community loves the Beth Tzedec Purim Family Musical each year, and what is there not to love? A story we all know set to melodies we all enjoy, brilliantly written and choreographed by Aliza and set to fresh creative musical orchestrations by Simon.

This year’s show “The Ultimate Purim Musical” featured three Esthers, two Mordechais, four Kings, four Hamans and a cast of models, dancers, eunuchs, nuns, cowboys, flappers, Vikings and gangsters. Not exactly your typical Purim musical! Such a fast-paced story required various narrators— Hans Jewish Andersen, a nun named Schwester Lederhosen, Ma Megillacutty and others—to escort us through the musical mosaic.

There were two most striking contrasts that thrilled the audience at each show. Mordechai’s new exciting Gangnam-Style dance, from out of nowhere, was greeted with a roar of enthusiasm for its fresh irreverent anti-Haman chutzpah, and our oldest friend appearing each year by popular demand–the Purim horse, a solid Beth Tzedec Purim fixture, that still manages to bring out the child in us as it trots past the outstretched hands of all who try to pet its fabric-fur.

One of the great things about Purim is the acting and supporting casts. This year was no exception. Hundreds of hours were contributed by the support volunteers not seen or recognized in the curtain calls. As for the actors, many of the regular faces were supplemented by new recruits, both young and old. The advantage of the seasoned actors was their corporate memory. Working with some of the familiar material, the complex dance moves were mastered with less pain. The advantages of welcoming new actors include reinvigoration of the routines, friendraising (some joined BT specifically to be in the musical) and integration into an expanded BT Purim family.

Aliza Spiro did the impossible (again), volunteering untold hours of writing, organizing, rehearsing and encouraging. The Purim play simply could not function without her generosity to BT.

As for Simon Spiro, usually known for his skills as the great H̱azzan who transports us with Jewish knowledge, wisdom and voice, he now wore his Chief Musical Officer hat—maestro,impresario, orchestrator, conductor and producer. He loved every minute of it, even when the performers were occasionally out of syncopated rhythms, with stresses and accents in places where they wouldn't normally be. He was the Captain, keeping the flow smooth, and the excitement levels very high.

Truly this was a professional production, not to be found in any other synagogue. As usual, Simon’s quest for excellence pushed us above and beyond what other H̱azzanim are capable of doing. His talent, creativity and commitment to excellence remind us how very fortunate we are to have him at the helm of our services and our music programming. 

Bravo, Simon and Aliza!

—Roger Goldstein and Sheldon Rotman Co-Chairs, Music Committee