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Imagine This was a 2008 West End musical that was slaughtered by the critics. I however fell in love with the musical and thought it was realistic, had dignity, heart and beautiful musical numbers.

Starring Peter Polycarpou and Leila Benn Harris (“Chess“) and Simon Gleeson (“Love Never Dies”), the musical with music by Shuki Levy, lyrics by David Goldsmith and a book by Glenn Berenbeim tells the story of a family of actors in the Warsaw Ghetto who put on a play about Masada to help build morale and encourage hope in the ghetto community.

According to Wikipedia, Professor David Roskies of the Jewish Theological Seminary has written that a little known poem, Masada, by Isaac Lamdan ‘more than any other text inspired the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto‘.

And if you doubt that there were theatrical performances in the ghettos, think again. There is even photographic evidence of theatricals in the Warsaw Ghetto.

The cast of a theater show in the Warsaw Ghetto.

The music is full of memorable numbers including:

  • Imagine This (Polycarpou/Company)
  • Hail (Gleeson/Ensemble)
  • I Am The Dove (Sarah Ingram/Leila Benn Harris) <– My Favourite!
  • Don’t Mind Me (Michael Matus/Steven Serlin)
  • I Surrender (Leila Benn Harris/Gleeson/Polycarpou) To be honest though I prefer an earlier version of this song that you can find on YouTube with Aaron Lazar and Amick Byram performing in concert at the base of Masada.

Thankfully someone was wise enough to record the cast’s performance
for all to enjoy. There is a cast recording and a live performance
available on video. FYI – several songs are missing from the DVD that was broadcast on PBS in 2010 including “Salome’s Lament”. There is also a demo US cast album featuring Aaron Lazar and Jenny Powers on Apple Music.