Interview: Jordan Friend Previews NextStop’s ‘A Kosher Christmas Cabaret’

Northern Virginia’s NextStop Theater has announced a very special cabaret event for the Holiday season. It is called A Kosher Christmas Cabaret. The performance is a follow-on to NextStop’s big summer of 2018 hit, A Kosher Cabaret.

Jordan Friend. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Jordan Friend. Photo courtesy of the artist.

The Kosher Christmas Cabaret will be a celebration of Jewish culture and the community’s extraordinary resilience, through humor and heart. The evening will feature local performers Jordan Friend, Alani Kravitz, and Ben Lurye, with Elisa Rosman at the piano. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Tree of Life Synagogue community.

And now to my chat with Jordan Friend to learn more details about Kosher Christmas at Northern Virginia’s NextStop Theatre. Friend also indicated there will be “some tricks” up the performers’ sleeves beyond the details provided in our conversation.

David Siegel: What was the motivation to develop A Kosher Christmas Cabaret?

Jordan Friend: We had our first Kosher Cabaret over the summer and it was a big hit! It was a thrill for local Jewish performers like myself to celebrate our identity through songs that mean a lot to us, and the audience absolutely loved it. We knew we wanted to do another, and the holiday timing means we can provide some quality Chanukah entertainment, especially since so much is geared towards Christmas this time of year. We use “Kosher” in the title because every song in the cabaret is either based on Jewish themes, or has a Jewish composer. That includes writers you may not have even known were Jewish!

What can audiences expect at the performance of Kosher Christmas?

We have a really special setlist for this one. We’ve pulled from across the musical theatre spectrum, including Sondheim, William Finn and more, plus we’ve also got everything from a Billy Joel to a lovely folk setting of a Hebrew prayer. It really runs the gamut! We’ll also have a few comedic surprises, which I won’t spoil, and of course some great Chanukah stories from the performers. We’re also branching out beyond the holiday, and exploring the Jewish theme of resilience and perseverance, which is relevant now more than ever.

Is this to be considered a “family friendly” event? Is it meant for all audiences?

It’s generally more aimed at adults and older students, given that some of the musicals we are pulling from have weightier themes, but we’re keeping it PG-13, and everyone is of course welcome.

Will there be “sing-along” aspects?

It’s mostly us, so you can kick back and enjoy, but there might be a moment or two where help is welcome…

If each of you could invite patrons, what would you say in your invitation?

I’d say I hope you can join Alani, Ben, Elisa and myself for a fabulous evening of music, both about Chanukah and much more. We’re great company, with songs and stories aplenty, and we can’t wait to share them with you. I’ll also mention that it should also be a blast even if you aren’t Jewish. I won’t speak for myself, but Ben and Alani are absolutely phenomenal singers, Elisa is a brilliant pianist, and there will definitely be some tunes familiar to all. Plus, you might get to learn something new!

A Kosher Christmas Cabaret plays December 8, 2018, at NextStop Theatre, 269 Sunset Park Drive, in Herndon, VA. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111 or go online.