If you were fortunate enough to be one of the approximately 250-plus attendees at the Torah Day School of Atlanta’s Middle School Girls production, “Exile Story, A Pesach Musical,” you were treated to a play replete with humor, a meaningful message and phenomenal acting and singing. The Dec. 2 performance truly thrilled the audience.
Written and directed by Rachelle Freedman – a TDSA parent and graduate – and produced by Chashy Alteman, it was a rich production, including the very creative simultaneous use of two stages with two separate sets and an ensemble cast and crew consisting of over 45 stars.
The songs were sung using the beautiful and moving music from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” with snappy and entertaining lyrics written by Freedman and her husband Yacov. Davida Graber worked as the voice coach while Meira Merlis served as an acting coach.
Other volunteers contributing to the production included Ella Szczupak and Robin Voight as videographer and lighting specialists, and rounding out the helpers were Ms. Danit, Bracha Bernhard, and Chaya Menucha Feldman.
Alterman, when offering her thanks to Freedman, referred to the play and its concept as a “fine wine served in a Styrofoam coffee cup.” Her description aptly illustrates Mrs. Freedman’s exquisite professionalism and creative capabilities using the relative amateur theatre troupe and staging.
Noteworthy, though, is that the production was truly like a fine wine. Set in present day, the play illustrated the blending of two families and their traditions for Pesach seder.
The teenage daughter, Tani, was not thrilled to have her seder with this family she considered “weird.” Meanwhile, the secondary stage illustrated the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt including their transformation from slaves to a nation.
“Freedom was the main message,” Alterman said. “You are ‘free’ when you are able to change your attitudes, as Tani did. The Jews in Egypt shed their slave mentality as they witnessed Hashem’s miracles and became a nation.
“[Today], we are often slaves to negative or faulty perceptions, and overcoming those is our freedom.”
The TDSA middle school girls embraced that lesson as they worked together for many, many hours. Before the performance, Rabbi Naphtali Hoff gave a beautiful welcome that reflected this.
“We were delighted to observe as the girls worked together to achieve a common goal,” he said. “They lent each other support while trusting their own ideas and abilities. They cooperated and collaborated, laughed together and grew together.
“Today every one of them is a star, and will shine brightly, each in their own unique way.”
BY LESLEE MORRIS / For the Atlanta Jewish Times