Musical by former Northeastern professor to debut in New York
Just in time for Purim, local playwright Samuel Bernstein has a new musical for Jews and non-Jews alike — if you can make the trip to New York.
The Framingham resident is set to debut “Queen Esther’s Dilemma” at New York’s Center for Jewish History for a limited run through March 18. Based on the biblical Book of Esther, the musical puts a new spin on the tale of the secret Jewess, Esther, and the evil Persian adviser to the king, Haman.
“The play focuses on a merged contemporary Purim party and the ancient world,” Bernstein says. “This is also the only book of the Bible in which [a] deity is not directly mentioned. That freed me in a way, allowing much of the humanly focused action to receive emphasis, which would not have been possible if God were mentioned throughout the text.”
The show was first workshopped in 2016 at Hebrew College in Newton. It was later staged at the American Theatre of Actors in New York.
Bernstein, a former Northeastern University English professor for 55 years, wrote another play with Jewish roots. His “Olympics Über Alles,” from 2014, was about track stars Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, the two Jewish-American athletes barred from the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. It was first seen as a staged reading at Boston University and then as a full production at MIT’s Kresge Little Theater.
“My mother . . . was not a student of Jewish life, but she felt a great beauty in the temple and ritual and hoped at some level that I would become a rabbi,” Bernstein said. “Around the dinner table, we would speak about Jewish ideas and motifs — Judaism filled our house.”
“Queen Esther’s Dilemma” opened March 1. Tickets and more information can be found at www.programs.cjh.org.