at North End Montessori School
698 Beech Street, Manchester, NH 03104
MIRIAM: A New Musical
Music by Debbie Friedman, an international icon of biblical and scripture-inspired music
Book by Alan D. Kaplan and Tom Anastasi
MIRIAM is a Broadway style musical written by two NH playwrights: Dr. Alan D. Kaplan and Dr. Tom Anastasi (both recently Grand Prize winners at Hollywood’s Golden State Film Festival for the MCTP film Surviving Evil: The Holocaust Through the Story of Stephan A. Lewy). All the music in Miriam was written by Debbie Friedman, an icon in ritual music, based largely on biblical liturgy and stories. There are 21 songs in the play, some of which Debbie never recorded. Work on the show began in 2002 during a NFTY summer trip to Israel while sailing on the Exodus from Crete to Israel (Debbie as the song leader and Alan as the medical director). Debbie remarked that no musicals had ever been written about old testament biblical women. Alan suggested combining songs she had written about these women with a script that would tell the story of one of the most famous…Miriam, the older sister of Moses and Aaron.
Miriam is one of the seven named prophets of Israel. Scripture describes her alongside of Moses and Aaron as delivering the Jewish people from exile in Egypt. Miriam is the first woman to bear the label “Prophet”. She is the archetype of the female prophetic tradition even as Moses heads the male. Miriam’s gift from God to find water made possible the 40-year survival of the Jewish people during their wanderings in the desert on their way to the Holy Land.
The play covers the time period from when Miriam helps Moses find his place in the Egyptian Pharaoh’s court through the Exodus from Egypt, receiving the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai (there were actually 613) and finally her death without ever reaching the Holy Land. We see her humanity, her frustrated love, her struggles dealing with her brothers and with God. Debbie wrote a great deal of music, so we had the good fortune to choose from soulful ballads, upbeat dance songs and songs with just fun lyrics. The show is very upbeat with multiple styles of dance (original choreography by Bruce Williams - NYC Ballet) and ends with a mix of some of Debbie’s best known and frequently sung songs. The music has been arranged for multiple voices and full orchestra by Or Oren (The Debbie Friedman Suite) and musically directed by Judy Hayward (winner of multiple NH Theatre Awards). The cast is a mix of professional and community theater performers. Playing Miriam is NH native Arielle Kaplan, who knew and sang with Debbie and is a frequent performer of her music. Whether you are affiliated with a local synagogue or not, you will have heard most of the songs in this wonderful musical. Miriam had been scheduled to be performed last March but was postponed due to the pandemic.