Bill (Yuval) Burnett is an award-winning writer, composer and creator of Television and Live Theater. His songs have been recorded & performed around the world by Bette Midler, Patti Lupone, and dozens of others. His Nickelodeon cartoon series ChalkZone is one of Nick’s classic hits. His feature length animated musical The Electric Piper is a cult favorite. And he won an Emmy for his writing on the PBS series Curious George.
Bill took the Hebrew name Yuval when he converted at the turn of the century. The name means “stream” or “tributary”, but it is also the name of the Torah’s ﬁrst musician! And it’s the root of the word “jubilation.” As Yuval, Bill found jubilation in the spiritual and mystical streams ﬂowing through the Jewish traditions – deep meanings and concepts that even many life-long Jews were completely unaware of. He was refreshed, invigorated, and enlightened by what he discovered, and wanted to contribute to the the spiritual rejuvenation sometimes called “21st Century Judaism.” He identiﬁed a need in the fabric of the community, one that,he, Yuval, was uniquely qualiﬁed to ﬁll: Non-liturgical musicals, stories and songs with catchy modern sounds, rhythms and melodies. Entertainment that would be fun, funny, moving, and Ed-Jew-Cational. Out of this formula,The Jubilation Musical Society was born.
The ﬁrst JMS production was the short musical Esther’s Destiny, a deeper look at the often burlesqued Purim story of the Jewish girl who becomes the Queen of Persia. After Esther, Yuval was commissioned by the prestigious Skirball Cultural Center to write and compose shows about the harvest holiday Sukkot and the ever-popular Hanukah. His most recent Skirball commission was The Young Maccabees, a refreshing take on the Hanukkah tale, exploring the holiday less as a “miracle” and more as a ﬁght for personal and religious freedom. The Young Maccabees premiered to sell-out crowds and rave reviews in November 2013 at the Skirball’s Family Hanukkah Festival.
March 2013 also saw the triumphant premiere of Yuval’s full-length Broadway-friendly musical Mem, at Adat Ari El in Valley Village. Mem – a radical departure from the book of Exodus – tells the tale of the Hebrew’s escape from Egypt with a fresh twist: for the ﬁrst time the story is told from the point of view of the slaves in the streets. Moses’ sister Miriam is a revolutionary leader who sends baby Moses down the Nile to be raised by royalty, as part of a plot to overthrow the Pharaoh. The staged-reading premiere played to packed houses and standing ovations, and Yuval is looking forward to bringing Mem back, bigger and brasher than ever in 2014/15.
Yuval has also compiled a compelling repertoire of solo concert material for his Guitorah series – catchy songs that uniquely capture the true essence of Torah Stories, Holidays, Jewish Symbols, Customs and Practices – things that are often misunderstood, even by Jews themselves. The Guitorah series can be geared to adults, teens, tweens and the very young – and always leads to fresh insights and lively discussions.