Families braved the freezing temperatures to turn out in droves at the elegant Bruno Walter Auditorium in Lincoln Center and among them were many well-known community Askanim such as Rabbi Yaakov Salomon, Rabbi Baruch Ber Bender and many others. World renowned author, lecturer and Mohel Rabbi Paysach Krohn brought along quite a number of his own grandchildren to enjoy an evening of Nachas from the work of his son-in-law’s company, Kolrom Multimedia.
As the crowd streamed into the lobby, they were greeted with the red carpet treatment of cameras flashing against the oversized custom -made Megillas Lester backdrop, capturing the excitement and palpable feeling of anticipation. Elegant dipped fruits and petit fours with sparkling water adorned the welcome tables where guests received their full color souvenir program booklets.
The great Nachum Segal of JM in the AM introduced the evening and warmly (and loudly!) praised the talent and tenacity of Kolrom’s president and Megillas Lester’s director, Chananya (CJ) Kramer . Mr. Kramer then received the first of his two spontaneous standing ovations for the night.
Before turning the audience’s attention to the big screen for the feature presentation, Mr. Kramer thanked his producers and underwriters of the film, EMES Productions, for their vision and commitment to raising the bar for quality frum media. He also thanked his creative team at Kolrom, his musical director Shmuli Rosenberg of SkyLine Music and made special note of his “secret weapon through the years” – his talented family members – including his sister and lyricist on the Megillas Lester project, Malka Leah Josephs. After praising the patience and support of his devoted wife Faige, Kramer cued the screen and the theater lights dimmed. The crackle of electrifying anticipation was felt coursing through every seat as the music started up on the opening montage – and Lester himself was seen riding his bicycle through Myrtle Park at the very start of the 65 minute feature presentation.
What followed was an astounding visual treat that no one could have anticipated… A true “Disney-esque” quality story told with exceptional beauty, adventure, music and an extra dose of comic wit. Most noteworthy is how the film captures some important lessons involving HaShem’s careful protection of each and every person without being the least bit preachy. The audience literally cheered for Lester as he scrambled to set the Purim story back on track in this wholly original story that turns everything we thought we knew about Shushan on its head. Spontaneous laughter erupted at regular intervals rippling through the crowd as young and old alike sat mesmerized throughout the program. The film’s theme song: “Upside Down” is so catchy and fun, it had everyone clapping along with the characters as they danced and sang in the final climactic scene.
As the credits rolled, the audience couldn’t help but burst into applause and shout-outs at each actors name – appreciating the outstanding performances.
When the lights came up on the cheering crowd, Mr. Kramer finally succeeded in re-seating the audience, and then introduced five of the main actors from the production: Yanky Schorr (Achashverosh), Andrew Davies (Seresh/Charvona), Michael Bihovsky (Lester), Shmop Weisbord (Bigsan), and Adam Leventhal (Haman), who treated everyone to some adorable backstage-style banter as they fielded questions from the audience and offered a quick sampling of their on-screen character voices. They were then joined by Musical Director, and composer of the original score, Shmuli Rosenberg at the piano who played an unplugged version of “Upside Down” as the actors performed with full voices and the obvious enthusiasm that comes with being part of a tremendously satisfying project.
Noted Jewish Philanthropist and CEO of Americare Inc. Mr. Elly Kleinman has worked with Kolrom on many creative projects over the years…(sometimes even getting involved in the acting himself!) He is currently in the final phase of development of his groundbreaking Kleinman Family Holocaust Education Center – a content-rich Holocaust museum and research center geared to the frum community, for which Kolrom is creating all of the media. “CJ is so creative, and has made some fabulous entertainment here”, notes Kleinman, “Megillas Lester is a perfect example of good entertainment that kids can see and enjoy…having Simchas Purim which is his whole objective and what Chananya does for the Klall.”
“This was a game changer for Jewish entertainment”, said Mich Cohen, a long-time friend of Kolrom who some may recognize from the viral sensation: “How not to do Bikkur Cholim”. Singer Shloimy Dachs echoed the sentiment saying, “It was absolutely amazing from beginning to end – I could not take my eyes off the screen!”
Said community activist Shragie Goldschmidt, “The film was excellent! Two thumbs up! Top rate! [Kramer should] really be commended for thinking BIG…creating a quality production specifically for the Jewish market. We all had a great time!” Adds JJ Rabinowich of the S4 group, “This was genuinely funny and enjoyable – wholesome entertainment that the whole family can enjoy together”.
Rabbi Ephraim Perlstein, a noted Mohel from the Five Towns added: “Leave it to Chananya to bring kosher entertainment to the Jewish world…we look forward to many more brilliant productions from you!”
Judging by the smiling faces on the lingering crowd at Lincoln Center last night, there are many who look forward to Kolrom’s future productions…though Megillas Lester will be hard to top.