Purim! The Musical @ NYC

Norman Roth at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan, where his Purim skits, like the “Thriller Megiller” and “The Megillah According to Rodgers & Hammerstein,” have been performed for decades.

Norman Roth at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan, where his Purim skits, like the “Thriller Megiller” and “The Megillah According to Rodgers & Hammerstein,” have been performed for decades.

Every year, the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue on West 68th Street in Manhattan holds a special celebration for Purim, the Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the ancient Jews of Persia from mass slaughter by Haman the Agagite.

Congregants enact a lively skit known as a Purim spiel, with a plotline taken from the Book of Esther, also known as the Megillah.

There is singing and dancing to songs appropriated from a broad swath of popular music — Broadway, the Beatles, Motown, disco — but always with lyrics by Norman Roth, 77, a retired accountant who for the past 28 years has written a new Purim spiel skit each year.

He parodies these genres or artists using the same set of Megillah characters, including Haman, King Ahasuerus and Queen Vashti, Mordecai and Esther.

There was the 1992 production of The Megillah According to Rodgers & Hammerstein, when Queen Vashti’s rebuke of the King sets up the King’s song, “I’m Gonna Vashti Queen Right Outta My Hair.” Opportunity abounded in 1999’s The Megillah According to the Beatles.

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