Esther Unmasked is an original, Broadway-style musical – a fun, witty, and contemporary approach to the Bible's Book of Esther.
Author and songwriter Jake S. Friedman wrote the play to vividly bring the characters to life, and draw out the relevance of the Purim story in our present world.
The play is presented in the same order as the Megillah itself, with one scene per chapter. By bringing out the heart and courage from the Book of Esther, Esther Unmasked leaves audiences feeling strong, hopeful, and eager to sing.
The issues inherent in the original text become dynamic, musical plot points: women’s empowerment; refugee crises; xenophobia; power-hungry politicos; the widening divide between violent and peaceful protest.
There are 14 original songs by Jake S. Friedman. Music was arranged and music-directed by off-Broadway composer and arranger Josh Ehrlich. Additional guidance was provided by professional director, playwright, and scholar David Willinger. Many of the players have performed on the professional stage and screen.
Esther Unmasked was performed on Purim in 2018 to great acclaim, and has since been updated with a new song and scenes to keep up with the times. While it is sophisticated enough for an adult New York audience, it appeals to all ages.
The running time for Esther Unmasked is approx. 60-70 minutes.
“Beautiful, inspired work!”
– Laura Wolfe, audience member and vocalist, multi-instrumentalist /recording artist
“Left me wanting more. Brilliant integration of deep history and rich culture to make the story come alive in the most humorous, creative, and captivating manner!”
– Tova Max, audience member and educator
“I’m so excited! It’s like a Broadway show for me. It really was phenomenal.”
– Marla Alt, audience member and entrepreneur (123 Organize)
– Eloise Jackson, audience member and professional designer
“I was so impressed when I heard that the music and lyrics were original! The songs were catchy and the lyrics were clever and funny ."
- Andrew Sklar, audience member and Zabar's regular
“The lyrics, music, and enthusiasm of the cast embraced the audience and brought the community together. Esther Unmasked is a wonderful and powerful musical celebration.”
– David Arnstein, audience member and high school department head
“With the pizazz of Rocky Horror and the timelessness of the Bible, you really can’t go wrong with Esther Unmasked. It was so much fun!”
– Jennifer Bangs, audience member and actress (SheBangsSheBangs.com)
“There was a lot of immediacy; one could easily relate to the story and it seemed very important today.”
– Linda Weissman, audience member and counselor
– Dr. Eric Teital, audience member and physician
“A musical feast and wild, whimsical adventure!”
– Jay Fabrikant, audience member and techno-ecologist
“It transforms the traditional “Esther” story into a hilarious modern version that just makes you want to sing along.”
– Emily Rose Keating, audience member and singer/songwriter
“Esther Unmasked is the best Purim spiel I’ve ever seen, by far –– smart, funny, and tuneful!”
– David Eric Davis, audience member and award-winning playwright
"I understand the Purim story and the characters in a whole new light and feel more connected to Judaism as a whole, and my part in it, after watching this interpretation.
– Cami Arrow, audience member and actress
“Being a part of the creative process of bringing to life an original musical about Esther has been a transformative experience.”
– Bess Eckstein, performer