The Chabad Women of Irvine is joining with other members of the community this month to present a completely original musical performance based upon the Jewish heroine Rachel and her story of rising above the deceit of her father toward her love, Jacob, and her sister, Leah, of what would become a tale of both familial swindling and exploitation.
What makes this show so special is that it has been written by a woman, produced by women, performed by women and will only be shown to an audience composed of women.
Esther Leah Tenenbaum, 24, has put together this show about Rachel and Leah from an idea inspired by UCI English professor Shana Trapedo. The musical is called, “MY SISTER, MY HUSBAND’S WIFE.” “One of the most important things I’m hoping the audience comes away with is not only will they be entertained and learn the Bible story of Rachel and Leah, but that they learn that women have had always had the strength and power to survive and ascend above all the deterrents that life happens to throw their way,” she said. “And of course succeed!”
According to Tenenbaum, she has chosen music from a variety of Broadway musicals and other familiar songs. Many of the lyrics have been rewritten to fit the new story line. “The performance offers a special opportunity for women and girls of all ages to celebrate their talents as a community,” she explained.
Binie Tenenbaum, Esther’s mother, said her daughter spent much of last summer doing a lot of research on the story of Laban, the deceitful father who swindled Jacob by insisting he work for him for 14 years to order to marry his younger daughter Rachel and then switched his older daughter Leah (in disguise) at the marriage ceremony. In order to marry Rachel, the sister he truly loved, there were many twists, turns and children along the way. “It was a fun thing to research on You Tube through the various Karaoke performances available on the site, but Esther worked very hard to create a show that all women, as young as six and right up to senior citizens can enjoy! There’s a lot of wonderful dancing and songs for members of the audience to tap their toes and sing along too!”
The younger Tenenbaum is stretching her creative juices by also wearing hats for direction and choreography. “We are using pre-recorded music, but everything else is done live by our cast of 20. Our youngest performer is 12. I have to say that I must thank my mentors Susan Steinberg and Linda Schwartz. They’ve been incredible sources of support and knowledge in helping me get this show together. I’m trying to include them as much as possible. Whenever I need some advice or support, I call them right up, and they’ve just been fantastic!”
Esther has written one other musical show, many holiday skits and variety segments throughout her teen and adult years.
“What I hope all the ladies who attend the shows will realize is that even though this is a Biblical tale, we can still make an emotional connection to what Rachel went through and apply it in some way to what we all go through in the modern world. I hope that people can conceive just how strong we as women are, no matter what the diversity and hardship might be and that people understand that they must learn to rise above hardships in order to help ourselves out.”
Some of the music will come from such shows as Evita and Mamma Mia. Proceeds from the performances will be shared among the Chabad’s education classes and the independent organization, Simchat Shabbat program that delivers and serves meals to those in need.
Chabad Women of Irvine will have two performances on March 25: a matinee at 1 p.m. and an evening performance at 7 p.m. The show is just under 2 hours.
Performances will be held in the theatre at the JCC at 1 Federation Way, Irvine. For more information on the show or how to buy tickets for either performance, call Binie Tenenbaum at (949) 786-5000, ext. 104. If you have a group of ten or more, a special rate is available.
Show prices are: youth and senior tickets, $18, general tickets $18, patrons $54, and sponsors, $36.
More detailed information is on the Chabad website, www.chabadirvine.org.
Founded in 1979 by a handful of families seeking traditional Jewish affiliation, Chabad of Irvine started in the living room of the rabbi and is now located in the heart of Irvine. Chabad serves the Jewish community from its current center with a synagogue, Hebrew school and other educational programs, including adult education and social and humanitarian outreach programs. One of the primary aspirations of Chabad is to generate a resurgence of Jewish tradition and awareness throughout the community. By arousing intellectual interest, Chabad is able to re-link Jewish adults with their roots.