THE CHARACTERS

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Esther

As a young woman, Esther is forcibly taken from her home to become part of the king’s harem.  She pleases the king and he chooses her to be The Persian Queen.  She commences the story fearful and fragile, but as the story progresses, she grows in maturity and confidence.  She is loved by all who encounter her and has the ability to calm the tormented mind of King Xerxes.

At the climax of the show, Esther finds the strength and faith she needs to face her fears and stand up for the survival of her people.

Although she is the main character, Esther only appears in 6 scenes, and does not enter the stage until Act 1 scene 5. She is a high soprano and has some challenging duets and trios, including “The Caged Nightingale”, “Such a Time as This” and “Esther’s Prayer”. She also has solo song called “Who Am I”.

Mordecai

Mordecai is a crucial character in the story, although he only appears in five scenes, and most of those are in the first Act.  He is a well-respected Jew who is a merchant in the marketplace outside the palace gates.  He is the adoptive father of Esther and was very worried about her when she was forcibly taken to be part of the king’s harem.  Later he recognizes that Esther’s royal position can help save the Jews and he encourages her to face her fears and be an advocate for her people.

Mordecai is wise and true to his convictions.  He stood up to Haman’s cruelty and refused to bow in submission to him.  This angered Haman greatly and led to Haman’s plot to kill the Jews.

Mordecai is a tenor and he sings in five songs, including the opening recit.  His most powerful songs include a duet with Esther, called “Such a Time as This”, and a song “Are You So Great” which he sings during his confrontation with Haman.

 

King Xerxes

Xerxes is the king of Persia.  He is unpredictable – sometimes approachable, sometimes terrifying.  He is a party boy and a mad man.  He wants to appear powerful and forceful yet is manipulated by those around him, especially Haman.  Xerxes has a tortured mind, struggling with depression and uncontrolled anger.  He often makes rash decisions and then regrets them.  During the story we discover that Esther is the one person who can calm him down and bring him some peace.

Xerxes appears in seven scenes.  He is a Bass and sings in four songs with some solo verses.  His main song, “Xerxes Lament”, takes place while he is grieving his decision to send away his first wife, Queen Vashti.

 

Haman

Haman is the villain of the story.  He is arrogant, cruel and egotistical.  He considers the king a puppet and he prides himself on being a master manipulator.  During the course of the story, Haman is promoted to become second in charge to the king, holding the signet ring used to sign off on royal decrees.  Haman takes a particular dislike to Mordecai, an orthodox Jew who refuses to bow before him.  Although strong, powerful and feared by many, he becomes more submissive around his wife, Zeresh.  Zeresh puts the idea into Haman’s head to arrange for the murder of Mordecai and the annihilation of the Jewish race.

Haman is a key character, appearing in nine of the 16 scenes.  He needs to have a strong tenor voice, singing key parts in 7 songs, including a couple of duets with Zeresh.  His main solo song is entitled “All About Me” and this falls within the scene where Haman is promoted.

Zeresh

Zeresh is the woman behind the villain of the show, Haman.  She is portrayed as a controlling and conniving witch, lending support to Haman’s wish to annihilate the Jews.  Zeresh appears in 5 scenes, and, along with her sons, adds some black comedy to the show.  She is an alto and has solos in three songs – “A Plot is Hatched”, “How to Kill a Shaman” and “Donkey on Its Head”.

Hegai

Hegai is a eunuch, appointed to look after the king’s harem and “juggle” all the king’s demands – he does need to literally juggle during the opening scene “Xerxes Circus”.   He is effeminate, but not camp.  He is like a fly on the wall and can move freely throughout the palace and knows everything that is going on.  At first we see Hegai as bumbling and fearful as he submissively follows the orders of Xerxes and his first queen, Vashti.  As the story evolves Hegai forms a friendship with Esther, who treats him with respect, and we see Hegai grow in his confidence.  Hegai plays a pinnacle role in turning the tables on Haman.

Hegai is a high tenor.  He sings in four songs, two of them solos.  His signature song “Fly on the Wall” introduces his character to the audience.

 

Samireh

Samireh is Esther’s handmaiden, and quickly becomes her friend. She is portrayed as the same age as Esther and she dreams of being married and having a family of her own one day.

Samireh is a Mezzo Soprano, singing solos in “Getting Ready”, “The Caged Nightingale”, and “Esther’s Prayer”.  Although Samireh only features in 4 scenes, she can be present in many more scenes simply as one of the handmaidens in the palace and visiting the marketplace.

 

Memucan

Memucan is Xerxes’ legal advisor and he has some important parts to play before his dramatic death in scene 6 of Act 1.  Memucan is a Baritone and he opens the singing in the first big scene of the show.  He participates in “Xerxes Circus” balancing on a ribbon tightrope, which illustrates how unstable and insecure his position is in the royal court.  Memucan often appears unsure and afraid – eager to please his king but often falling short.

Memucan only sings two songs – “Xerxes Circus” and “Xerxes Lament”.

 

Vashti

Queen Vashti is Xerxes’ first wife.  Her beauty is renowned throughout the land.  She is a strong character and stands up for the rights of women, encouraging others to stand with her.  However, this quickly backfires and she finds herself banished from the kingdom.

She appears only in scene 2 and sings a very powerful anthem in her strong alto voice.  The role of Vashti would suit a seasoned performer who would like to showcase their talent without taking on a huge commitment.