Sunday, January 20, 2013

It's the Journey that Counts

On Thursday, January 24, Raise Your Spirits takes to the road and brings its latest production, "ESTHER and the Secrets in the King's Court" to the stage of the new Cultural Center in Kiryat Arba, south of Gush Etzion.
It's the first time this production of ESTHER has left its home stage of the Gush Etzion Community Center. It's an exciting journey that everyone is looking forward to.
But this isn't really the journey that will make ESTHER an unforgettable experience for its cast of more than 60 women and girls. The journey that has been unforgettable has been the one we have taken together since the beginning of the summer, the one that changed each of us from individual talented people :) to a family of performers.
The journey that really counts for our Raise Your Spirits cast is the journey from me to us. Most people think that actors are a bunch of selfish hams (well, hams maybe, but selfish doesn't have a place in Raise Your Spirits dialogue).
The journey that counts has had its milestones - the first time we saw the benefits of harmonizing correctly, the first time we understood that our dance looked best when we pulled together, the first time we each rooted for someone else more than ourselves, the first time we cheered when a cast member "got it right", the first time we saw the shine in the eyes of our little Shushan children, the first time an understudy got on stage and made us proud.
Our journey from a cast of an excellent show to a tight united family has been the one that counts, the one we will always remember. Our cast will always remember it, and so will our audiences.
We've been together on a regular basis for more than seven months now. That's a long time. We've gotten to know one another pretty well, and the familiarity breeds quite a lot of love and laughter. 
To the "Cast of the Queen" as ESTHER's director Toby Klein Greenwald says, or "Queenies" in the words of production manager Eudice Spitz, you will light up the stage in Kiryat Arba and bring tremendous pride to everyone involved in ESTHER, to our audience and even to our Forefathers in the City of Hebron.
Enjoy the journey.
If you'd like to join us on Thursday night, contact 02-996-1666, then dial "0" for the secretary. Tickets are 58 NIS.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Snowing on ESTHER

ESTHER snowperson with little
Dvora Hurwitz tens years ago.
Photo by Hilary Hurwitz.
Ah, snow snow snow snow. Snow blanketed Gush Etzion and Efrat today, in addition to other places around Israel. Families spent the day playing outside and making the most of the white fluff. Smiles and laughter were everywhere.
Our Raise Your Spirits production of ESTHER and the Secrets in the King's Court had a full cast rehearsal scheduled for this evening in order to refresh ourselves in preparation for Sunday night's performance in Matnas Gush Etzion at 8:15 (January 13). But we were snowed-out. The snow accumulation and icy roads have made it impossible for us to get together to sing and dance. We're all pretty disappointed.
But this isn't the first time ESTHER has been snowed out.
In 2003, our original ESTHER and the Secrets in the King's Court was supposed to play in Ra'anana. The theater was totally sold out, and our fans in Ra'anana were very excited that we'd be performing there.
However, it snowed the night before, and we in Efrat and Gush Etzion were totally snow-bound. Even though the weather was lovely in Ra'anana, we couldn't get there.
Our friends in Ra'anana couldn't believe it. "The sun is shining here," they said. "But we're covered with snow here, and no traffic is moving anywhere nearby," we replied.
It was difficult for them to believe that we really couldn't make it to Ra'anana that night.
So I called my Raise Your Spirits neighbors and invited them to my home for some Show and Tell for Ra'anana. We even had the help of some of our kids.
We dressed up in whatever RYS costumes I had in my house. As founder of RYS and producer of JOSEPH and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and ESTHER and the Secrets in the King's Court, I had quite a collection of memorable outfits in my office.
Then we went out into the snow. We snapped a few photos and sent them off to Ra'anana. "This is why we can't come to Ra'anana tonight."
They finally understood. why ESTHER had to be postponed, and we performed in Ra'anana to an appreciative and sold-out audience at a later date.
Back to the Future
Our 2013 cast of Raise Your Spirits takes the stage IY"H on Sunday evening, January 13th, and then again on Thursday evening, January 17th. The snow will be cleared by then, and everyone's invited to Matnas Gush Etzion for our 8:15 PM performance.
These are ESTHER's last two performances in Gush Etzion. Join us.

The photos above include costumes from the 2002-3 production of ESTHER and the Secrets in the King's Court and the 2001-2 production of JOSEPH and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Thanks to Hilary Hurwitz and Izzy Katz for their photography.