By Jordan Mandel, Jewish Tribune
TORONTO – Moses, Pharaoh, Pyramids and Plagues have landed in Toronto for the Exodus Experience. From March 12 to March 31, visitors will be transported back 3,300 years to ancient Egypt, where an interactive re-enactment of the Passover story is brought to life.
The production, hosted by Tzivos Hashem Canada, is the most recent installment of a decade-old concept that has toured the world. Audiences from Australia to South Africa and California to Connecticut have been wowed by the engaging experience.
Last year’s Exodus Experience occurred in New York City to the delight of more than 18,000 men, women, and children, who were immersed in their ancient ancestors’ legendary experience.
“People are crazy about it,” remarked Rabbi Yonah Vilenkin, director of Tzivos Hashem Toronto.
For the Toronto iteration, sets have been constructed in partitioned rooms within a hangar at Downsview Park. The audience is literally led through the Pesach story beginning with the enslavement of the Jews, through Moses’ demands to Pharaoh to let his people – in this case, the audience – go, all the way to the splitting of the Red Sea and the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai.
The sets are remarkably detailed and exceed expectations of what one might encounter in such a setting. The acting is professional, the sets are elaborate and lighting and audio arrangements augment the experience.
Although it ostensibly may be geared towards a younger crowd, the show has a great deal of tongue-in-cheek humour clearly inserted for the accompanying parents.
“I think it’s great,” said Daniel Delman, a parent at the Experience’s March 12 debut. “The most I ever had was the story at school and watching the Ten Commandments. This takes Passover to a whole new level.” By the looks and sounds of it, the kids loved it too.
The Exodus Experience is highly interactive and children constantly jeered Pharaoh and cheered Moses as they engaged in their frustrating and comedic back-and-forth. As there is no obvious ‘seating’ area, the audience is immersed right in the set of each scene.
At the end of the journey children are invited to participate in the Model Matzah bakery where they learn the intricate process involved in matzah-making. They thresh wheat, knead dough, and bake matzah in the same way it has been done for thousands of years.
The Exodus Experience is open to the Public for Sunday showings on March 15, 22, and 29 at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Midweek showings are reserved for community groups.
For reservations, call (416) 661-0650 or visit www.exodus09.com