The golem is a figure from Yiddish folklore that is often depicted as a frightening figure. Yet on Thursday, March 23, 2017, Drom in New York City will present a one-night-only show called Golem Gets Married. True to its title, the theatrical event will feature music from the internationally renowned Klezmer rock group and play out like a traditional Jewish wedding. This comic play will include a mock bridal party, a wedding canopy (called a “chuppah”), dancing, chair-lifting, and even cake! Recently, founder and bandleader Annette Ezekial Kogan discussed the show and the inspiration behind it.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get into music and theater initially?
Annette Ezekial Kogan (AEK): I grew up playing the piano and I was a serious ballet dancer. Plus, I loved history, languages, and performing. I also did Ukrainian dance with accordion accompaniment. One thing led to another and “Golem” combines all of that for me.
MM: What inspired you to create “Golem Gets Married”? How did you come up with such a delightfully fun and quirky idea?
AEK: I was reading a book about the Jewish hotels in the Catskill Mountains. In the 1950s, before air conditioning, everyone used to go up there for the whole summer. The women and children would stay all week and the husbands would come up on the weekends. The movie Dirty Dancing is based on that time and place. Anyway, apparently, there was a tradition that at the end of the summer season, on Labor Day Weekend, many of the hotels would put on a “mock wedding.” People dressed in drag, including the “bride” and the “groom”. There was a fake ceremony with lots of jokes and poking fun at Jewish tradition, and then a wild party to end the summer. I thought, “Wow, that’s a great Idea. We could do that – almost exactly the same thing!”
MM: Can you please tell us a bit about golem’s bride? What did she see in him? Deep down, is he a nice Jewish boy?
AEK: Of course he’s a nice Jewish boy! He is kind, sensitive, very intelligent, and incredibly handsome if you don’t mind eyes that cross ever so slightly. And I’m sure the acne will go away by the time he is 35! He has a very successful career as a doctor and lawyer. He alternates, one day at the hospital, one day at the firm. Sometimes he even sees patients at the courthouse! He also cooks gourmet kosher French cuisine and windsurfs.
MM: This play is based off a traditional Jewish wedding, kind of like “Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding” with a twist. Considering that, are the events explained so that even non-Jewish audience members will be able to get into the action?
AEK: I have never seen Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding and I didn’t hear about it until after coming up with this idea, but yes, it sounds similar. And yes, people should get dressed up as if they are attending a real wedding. Wear slightly comfortable shoes (4 instead of 6 inch heels) because you will be dancing the whole night, including wild circle dancing in the hora. And you never know who you might meet! A day off Tinder might be better than you thought! And if it comes to that, you’ll know what band to hire for your wedding.
MM: How did you go about getting this work staged? What were some of the most challenging aspects of creating such a fun, immersive, production?
AEK: We mostly play rock sets in rock clubs, so the biggest challenge was to get a rock venue where we could have the whole night and transform it into a kind of rocked-out wedding venue.
MM: What kind of music can guests expect to hear? Also, any word on the flavor of the wedding cake?
AEK: There is going to be a huge range of music. Traditional acoustic old world Eastern European tunes for the ceremony, then we plug in for a wild hora set and then we’ll rock the night away with original Golem songs mixed with covers, everything from Prince to the Rolling Stones. The wedding cake will be baked by our trombonist’s wife, Alona Cohen, a master baker. The flavor of the cake is LOVE.
MM: If this play is successful, might it run again or is this strictly a one-time-only thing?
AEK: We could do it every night, I’m sure we can get plenty of “brides” and “grooms.”
MM: What kinds of projects do you hope to work on from here? Career-wise, where do you hope to be in 10 years?
AEK: We do all kinds of performances – rock clubs, music festivals, film, theaters, and of course, real weddings! In ten years, we hope to be doing this same thing—what we do best! The Superbowl halftime show would be a great venue for us in 2027!
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
AEK: Golem Gets Married features an incredible band of seven musicians and this is your chance not only to hear our regular repertoire but many other kinds of music as well, and you will love it.
[Featured Image by Annette Ezekial Kogan]