The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The First Congregational Church of Palo Alto brings ‘Eras of Esther’ to the stage

FCCPA’s community production offers a unique musical mashup of Taylor Swift and the Bible
Sarah Howell (Carshena) tries to win Sam Putney (King Ahasuerus) over by singing “You Belong with Me.” Photo by Isabelle Kok.

The First Congregational Church of Palo Alto (FCCPA) debuted its biblical musical “Eras of Esther” on April 27 and April 28 at 7 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. The 45-minute musical was a simplified retelling of the Book of Esther, included in the Christian Old Testament and Hebrew Bible, which follows the story of Esther, a Jewish woman who marries the Persian king Ahasuerus and saves her people from a plotted genocide. “Eras of Esther” is one of FCCPA’s annual musical productions, and depicts Esther’s story through live instrumentals and covers of some of Taylor Swift’s most popular tracks like “Blank Space” and “I Knew You Were Trouble.”

According to Sam Putney, who played King Ahasuerus, the cast prepared for two months before the performances, rehearsing once a week after auditions were completed in February. Putney’s role — besides the obvious singing and dancing of a musical lede — included striking poses to an “Esther version” of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and being pulled side to side by hordes of eager suitors.

“I was really trying to learn my lines,” Putney said. “Sometimes, if I’m a smaller part, then I procrastinate, but I get bad stage fright, so I really wanted to be prepared. I started right away and was off the book in a couple of weeks.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by FCCPA (@fccpa)

Like Putney, George Kadifa — cast as Mordecai, Esther’s cousin — grew up in the church and has been a recurring participant in FCCPA’s performances. In his role, Kadifa paraded the stage adorned with a crown, cape and hobby horse, kindling waves of laughter from the audience.

“I didn’t realize how much the crowd would react to the horse,” Kadifa said. “It’s interesting — everything seems predictable to you because you’ve seen it so many times during rehearsals, so it’s always fun to see what the actual audience reacts to, and we’re gonna have some fun with that.”

After the musical’s opening night debut, Putney looks forward to returning to the stage lights for the second performance, hoping that his acting can improve now that he’s less nervous.

“Tonight went great, and I just love the after-show buzz — there’s a little bit of adrenaline that you can really see on everyone’s faces,” Putney said. “It just brings people from all sorts of generations closer together. It’s a great opportunity for those people who don’t get a chance to be together at our church all the time.”

Pastor Dave Howell, the creator of the musical and stage director for “Eras of Esther,” agrees, asserting that all of the work put into the last two months culminated in a production that was an opportunity for the whole community to come together.

“I always love this part where everybody gets to have fun, see all their friends, have a good time and hear the laughter,” Howell said. “It’s such a special experience for people who don’t always do a lot of shows.”

About the Contributors
Isabelle Kok
Isabelle Kok, Staff Writer
Isabelle Kok is currently a sophomore and a staff writer for El Estoque. In her free time she loves to listen to music, build useless hauls on shopping websites and take naps.
Benjamin Zhang
Benjamin Zhang, Staff Writer
Benjamin is currently a sophomore and a staff writer for El Estoque. In his free time, he likes to play soccer, collect vinyls and critique bad movies.
More to Discover