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National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Presents An International Purim Celebration

The Purim celebration will take place on February 22-25, 2021.

National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Presents An International Purim Celebration

Artists and performers from around the world join National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF) to celebrate Purim virtually from February 22-25, 2021. The Purim Celebration features a stellar, star-studded line-up of Yiddish music, Cabaret, and a special reading of the Megiles Ester (The Book of Ester) in Yiddish.

Each event is available "on-demand" from its start time at https://nytf.org/. Hava Tequila Cabaret is available for limited time starting February 24 at 7 PM ET through Sunday February 28 at 7 PM ET. All other programs will remain on the website with free access.

"Amid the pandemic, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene is reaching audiences both close to home and around the world through dynamic and innovative programs that enlighten, that entertain, and that celebrate our culture," said Zalmen Mlotek, Artistic Director. Dominick Balletta, Executive Director added, "Purim is a period for joyous celebration and so we're proud to celebrate with an exceptional group of young performers who are part of the Folksbiene community-and in doing so connect with communities from near and far."

The celebration begins on Monday, February 22 at 1 PM ET, with one of Folksbiene! LIVE's signature programs, NYTF Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek's Living Room Concerts. Mlotek will present a selection of Yiddish Purim Songs.

On Tuesday, February 23 at 1 PM ET, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Associate Artistic Director Motl Didner will present a Purim-themed episode of 15 Minute Yiddish featuring an original Purim Shpil, the earliest form of Yiddish theater, performed by 15 Minute Yiddish fan favorite characters Helen, Murray, Professor Thompson, Sophia, Scott, and Wayne. This episode also marks the Season 2 finale. Didner's weekly lessons have gained a cult following, teaching adults the basics of Yiddish conversation-no experience necessary.

On Wednesday, February 24, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene will introduce a new quarterly series, Hava Tequila Cabaret. The inaugural episode is hosted by Adam B. Shapiro, one of the stars of the award-winning Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish and the host and director of Folksbiene's Chanukah Spectacular, which premiered in December 2020 and drew over 35,000 viewers. This fun-filled event brings together a cast of young and rising talent-most who've starred in National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene productions like Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish and The Sorceress, including, Dani Apple, Stephanie Lynne Mason, Daniella Rabbani, Lauren Jeanne Thomas, Bobby Underwood, and Mikhl Yashinsky. Michael Winograd will join Daniella Rabbani to perform a duet. Hava Tequila Cabaret is a benefit for the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene through permission from Theatre Authority, Inc.

This program is available on demand-watch any time beginning Wednesday, February 24 at 7 PM ET through Sunday February 28 at 7 PM ET. As with all Folksbiene! LIVE programming, other Purim Celebration events will remain for free on the website after their start time.

Closing the festival on Thursday, February 25 at 7 PM ET, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene and the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust host a simkhe (celebration) in honor of Purim, led by Motl Didner. The simkhe will feature a lively reading of the Megiles Ester (Book of Ester) in Yiddish-as translated by the great poet Yehoash, featuring a cast of international readers, Rivka Augenfeld (Yiddish activist, Montreal, Canada), Cantor Arianne Brown (Adas Israel Congregation, Washington DC), Mendy Cahan (Founder of Israel's Yung Yiddish), Jeanette Friedman (NYTF Board of Directors alumna), Rafael Goldwasser (Internationally renowned actor, Buenos Aires, Argentina), Anna Fishman Gonshor (Lecturer, McGill University, Montreal, Canada), Zalmen Mlotek (NYTF Artistic Director), Maia Morgenstern (Director, State Jewish Theater, Bucharest, Romania), Freidelle Mrocki (Singer and Yiddish teacher, Melbourne, Australia), and Shmuel Atzmon Wirtzer (Founder of Israel's Yiddishpiel Theater).

Following the reading, the Brooklyn-based klezmer ensemble Litvakus will take the stage for a festive musical performance. The group was founded and is led by D. Zisl Slepovitch and includes Zoë Aqua, Taylor Bergren-Chrisman, Joshua Camp, and Sam Weisenberg. The program also will feature a presentation by Ari Goldstein, Senior Programs Producer at the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, of historic artifacts from the Museum's collection illustrating Purim and its role in 20th century European Jewish communities.a??

Hava Tequila Cabaret Participants (in alphabetical order)

Dani Apple is ecstatic to be back with her incredible NYTF family! She was last seen in the Folksbiene's production of The Sorceress. After growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, she graduated from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee with a BFA in musical theatre. Dani has previously performed regionally at Virginia Musical Theatre, The Barn Theatre, Cain Park, the Beck Center, and Traguna Productions. She has also performed in the Festival of New Musicals at the Goodspeed Opera House and in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Her favorite quarantine activity has been singing duets with her dog, Clarence!

Stephanie Lynne Mason is ecstatic to be a part of the Hava Tequila Cabaret. NYTF credits include Hodl in Fidler Afn Dakh, Mirele in the 2017 production of Di Kishefmakherin and Gussie in Amerike, the Golden Land. Other favorites include covering the principal daughters in the 2015 Broadway Revival of Fiddler on the Roof, touring the country as Dyanne in Million Dollar Quartet, and having the opportunity to play Louise in Gypsy. Special thanks goes to Motl, Zalmen, Dominick, Jamibeth and everyone at NYTF, as well as Adam and especially Merete Muenter for helping make this video possible.

Adam B. Shapiro has been a Folksbiene regular for several years, beginning with the title role in Gimpel Tam, and appearing in The Megile of Itsik Manger, The Golden Bride, and as Der Rov in Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish. Other Off-Broadway credits include Bastard Jones, Death of a Salesman (in Yiddish), The Boys from Syracuse, and The Mikado Re-imagined. TV/Film credits include The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Master of None, 30 Rock, The Mysteries of Laura, Friends From College, Adam Sandler's The Cobbler, and the role of Bella in HBO's Emmy-Winning film, The Normal Heart. Adam is also a MAC Award winning cabaret performer and his debut single, "Warm as Winter," can be found on iTunes, Apple Music, and Spotify. He is currently recording his debut EP to be released in 2021.

Daniella Rabbani is an actress best known for her role as Rabbi Zoe in CBS' God Friended Me. Upcoming projects include HBO's Scenes from a Marriage (with her 17-month-old daughter Paz, who you may have seen in Folksbiene's Chanukah Spectacular). Her directorial debut film OMA, inspired by her experience as a third generation Holocaust Survivor, is available on Amazon Prime. Daniella is thrilled to be reunited with the Folksbiene where she made her Off Broadway debut in Gimpel Tam and participated in countless concerts with Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek. It is her greatest privilege and joy (nakhes, if you will!) to sing Yiddish music. To connect and learn more about Daniella in real time follow her on Instagram at @daniellarabbani. BFA: NYU Tisch/ Stella Adler Studio.

Lauren Jeanne Thomas is an actress and multi-instrumentalist, based in NYC. She was most recently seen as the Fiddler in Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, Off-Broadway. Other recent credits include Once (Reza, Nat'l tour) and The Goree All-Girl String Band (NYMF). Endless gratitude to the Folksbiene for welcoming her into their theater community, and for giving artists the opportunity to perform while theaters remain closed! During this time, Lauren has been writing, teaching, and crafting.

Bobby Underwood is a Brooklyn-bred actor and comedian. Folksbiene credits include the Immigration Officer in Amerike - The Golden Land, the Organ Grinder in Di Kishefmakherin, and the Constable (Der Gradavoy) in the Drama Desk-winning Fiddler in the Roof in Yiddish. He is a lifelong fan of Tom Lehrer and is thrilled to revive a (slightly edited) Lehrer classic for Hava Tequila. Hope you enjoy.

Mikhl Yashinsky. Born in Detroit, educated at Harvard. With the Folksbiene: Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish; The Sorceress (for which he was hailed by The New York Times for bringing a "keen, if malevolent, psychology" to the title role). Direction: Brundibár; The Happy Prince (Michigan Opera Theatre); Tosca (Lowell House Opera). Co-author of new Yiddish textbook In eynem (Yiddish Book Center) and translator of the memoirs of theatrical pioneer Ester-Rokhl Kaminska (forthcoming from Syracuse University Press). In 2019, Yashinsky was named to the Forward 50, the historic newspaper's annual list of "influential, intriguing, and inspiring" American Jews.

Purim Celebration Participants (in alphabetical order)

Matthew "Motl" Didner is the Associate Artistic Director of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. Associate Director of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish (Winner of Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Awards) directed by Joel Grey, Co-director The Golden Bride (Drama Desk Award Nominated: Outstanding Revival of a Musical and Outstanding Direction of a Musical). Other directing credits include The Sorceress, Fyvush Finkel Live! (Drama Desk Award-nominated: Outstanding Musical Revue), Robert Brustein's The King of Second Avenue, The Megile of Itzik Manger, The Pushcart Peddlers, The Marriage Contract. Yiddish coach An American Pickle starring Seth Rogen, The Immigrant at George Street Playhouse, and, New York City Opera's Angels in America. Motl was an inaugural Translation Fellow at the Yiddish Book Center and teaches Yiddish language classes and theater workshops at the Workers Circle.

Zalmen Mlotek is an internationally recognized authority on Yiddish folk and theater music as well as a leading figure in the Jewish theatre and concert worlds. For the past 20 years, he has been the Artistic Director and conductor at Folksbiene. He brought Yiddish-Klezmer music to Broadway and Off-Broadway stages with the Tony-nominated Those Were the Days and Drama Desk-nominated Amerike - The Golden Land. He serves as Music Director for most Folksbiene productions, including the recent New York Times Critics Pick The Sorceress and Drama Desk-nominated musical The Golden Bride. His music can be heard in over two-dozen recordings and films and he has taught and performed all over the world and worked with countless singers. His vision brought the critically acclaimed award-winning Fidler Afn Dakh (Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish), directed by Joel Grey, for which he served as music director, to New York City.


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