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Rock ‘n’ roll: “A Very Awesome Purim” has previously told the Purim story with Beatles songs, glam rock, and Broadway tunes, and this year focuses on pop hits. Courtesy of Josh and Rachael Silverbauer
Purim goes pop
Musical brings the top 40 to the Jewish holiday
COURIER LIFE, FEB. 28-MAR. 5, 2020 37
WBy Rose Adams hy is this night more awesome
than all other nights?
A new musical will put a
pop spin on an ancient Jewish tradition!
“A Very Poppy Purim,” at Littlefield in
Gowanus on March 7, will add Top 40
tunes, goofy characters, and a big dose
of audience participation to the festive
holiday, said the husband-and-wife duo
behind the party.
“Part of the charm of the show is that
we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” said
Josh Silverbauer, who launched an annual
series of “A Very Awesome Purim” shows
with his wife Rachael 10 years ago.
The joyous Jewish holiday is typically
celebrated with costumes and a retelling of
the Purim story, in which a Jewish woman,
Esther, marries the King of Persia in order
to prevent the king’s anti-Semitic advisor
from killing all the Jews. Audiences boo
whenever the evil advisor is mentioned,
and cheer for Esther.
“A Very Poppy Purim” will turn all
those elements up to 11. It replaces the
main characters with pop icons, with
Esther becoming the Lady Gaga-esque
“Lady Esther,” and marrying the King
of Pop, and the songs will all parody
pop hits from the 1960s to today, such as
“All the Kingdom’s Ladies,” and “Like a
Persian.” The audience responses will also
be heightened, said Josh.
“As the narrator, I basically assign a
bunch of call-and-responses,” he said.
When the king walks on stage,
participants will give a high-pitched “hee
hee” that mimics Michael Jackson, and
when Lady Esther appears, the audience
will sing “Ooh la la,” from Lady Gaga’s
song “Bad Romance,” he explained.
Rachael and Josh, both musicians,
began hosting musical Purim parties 10
years ago in their Philadelphia home with a
group of friends. Within a couple of years,
the audience grew so large that they could
barely find space to perform, they said.
“The last time it was in that house we
had so many people that we only had a
four-by-four area to perform,” Rachael
This year the musical will have four
performances in Philadelphia, in addition
to the Brooklyn event. Despite the show’s
popularity, the couple say they still treat
it like a party among friends. The theme
changes each year based on their fans’
votes — previous shows have featured
the Beatles, Disney movies, and musical
one-hit wonders — and celebrating with
attendees is central to the show.
“We do a lot of going out in the
audience and interacting with people,”
said Josh. “The after-party is very much a
part of the show.”
The couple also hope that Gentiles will
attend the show and learn more about the
“We’re making Jewish culture
accessible to Jewish people and non-
Jewish people,” Rachael said.
“A Very Poppy Purim” at Littlefield
(635 Sackett St. between Third and Fourth
avenues in Gowanus, littlefieldnyc.com).
March 7 at 7 pm. $15.