Makom Shelanu’s Purim Spiel is a hit performance 
Photos: Emily April Allen
From left, Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, Kal Silverberg, Zane Freemyer-Jackson, Robert Telschow.

Makom Shelanu’s production of their Purim Spiel, “The Next Queen of Persia: A Purim Extravaganza,” was a sold-out success! Over 175 people crowded into their standing-room-only space to view a RuPaul’s Drag Race-inspired musical, featuring local drag superstar Salem Moon as Queen Esther.

Makom Shelanu co-creators puck glass, who is completing their first year of Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Cantor Sheri Allen came up with the idea a year ago. The story of Purim lends itself well to the concept of drag — the art form celebrating exaggerated forms of gender expression for entertainment purposes.

When the groundbreaking opportunity to hire a professional drag queen to play the beloved heroine of the Purim tale presented itself, they knew they would be making Fort Worth HERstory! Salem Moon is an actor, director and musician who also does voice-over work and performs regularly at Red Goose Saloon, drag brunches and storytime events throughout the Metroplex.

Sheri, puck and TCU film professor and playwright, Richard Allen, wrote a script centered on the competition to choose a new queen, with Esther competing with other contestants Shushan Scarlet, Persian Pearl, Marcy Farci and Adore Adar. Fun and fanciful touches included parody songs such as “Everything’s Coming Up Esther” (“Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from “Gypsy”), Persian Queen (Abba’s “Dancing Queen”) and Sashay Away (Village People’s “YMCA”); a set draped with Indian saris; and keyboard accompaniment by DeShay Freemyer-Jackson. Besides Salem, cast members included Rachel Gollay, Robert Telschow, Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, Ben Carlisle, Zane Freemyer-Jackson, Kal Silverberg, Brie Kirsch, Cantor Sheri Allen, Chava Rousch-Carlisle and Hope Satinsky.

Drag has come under fire this year in several states. In Texas, legislators tried to push through SB12, a bill that would have “prohibited performers from dancing suggestively or wearing certain prosthetics in front of children” (https://www.texastribune.org/2023/09/26/texas-drag-queen-law-unconstitutional/). It was struck down in court, but The Texas Attorney General’s Office plans to appeal the ruling.

Rachel Gollay (top) as AhashveiRU and Salem Moon as Esther.

Far from being a threat to anyone, drag is performance art that has its roots in community. It’s about freedom of expression and the creation of bold and beautiful characters who tell their stories through dancing, singing and experimenting with face paint and costumes. Tying in drag with a holiday which encourages crossdressing, revelry and revealing hidden identities is a perfect fit with Purim.

The audience agreed as they actively participated in the merrymaking and gave the performers a standing ovation. A festive meal catered by King Tut followed, as well as questions and discussions about the theme for next year. The wheels are already turning!

—Submitted by
Cantor Sheri Allen

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