Wallenberg, a New Musical Drama
A new look of tragedy through the eyes of a hero...
While most Regional Theatres across America have greatly decreased their budgets and many closed up shop during the recession, we at White Plains Performing Arts Center, a 410 seat LORD-D in Westchester County, NY have done just the opposite. Under new management, the theatre has undertaken the ambitious endeavor of revitalizing the Westchester County Community, dedicating its relaunch season to producing new professional theatre while serving the region through Arts Education including a top-tier instructed student a conservatory program, a dialogue series, Conversations @ 7, involving some of the most prolific theatre voices, and a vast assortment community enrichment events.
We're extremely excited to announce that Conversations @ 7 series kicks off November 7, 7pm, with Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning composer, Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, Everyday Rapture, High Fidelity). The Conversations series is structured as an intimate open forum, where the participating audience and guest artists share an evening discussing craft and life in the theatre. The spectrum of participating guests will range in their roles in theatre from creative to production to performing with the consistent factor of their level of achievement and a rare chance for audience to interact with these masters of theatre.
The season itself opens this Saturday, October 30th, with the world premiere of Wallenberg, a new musical drama. The backstory of Wallenberg starts here:
I was teaching Hebrew school when the idea first came along. The Holocaust was the curriculum and there was a small section on righteous Gentiles in the textbook. I read "1944, Raoul Wallenberg went to Budapest and saved over 100,000 Jews, more than were rescued by any other individual, organization or government during the entire war. And in Amsterdam, the Frank family"….I thought to myself, ‘If that first sentence is true, why do I, who went to Solomon Schechter and had a good, solid Jewish education, not know who we was. So I did what I always do when I learn something new, I picked up the phone and called my longtime collaborator, Felicia Needleman. In 2006, together we were honored to be the recipients of the Kleban Award for librettists.
Felicia didn't know much about him either, so together we started to read and the more we read, even after 50 books or so, still, the more we could find out about him. Typically, we write comedies, but there was something that stood out about Raoul Wallenberg that fascinated us- for what he did, putting himself in the middle of a genocide without political or personal motivation, he did so and challenged these horrible acts. He was native to Sweden, many of the Hungarian Jewish lives he saved he had never met before. This was a man who was good, a man who was humble and respectful- who wrote to this mother closely throughout the years, a real hero in the sense- not born of bloodshed in the battlefield or of distanced advocacy. He was a regular man. A regular man who took a stand, not because his hand was forced, not because there was a person vendetta, but because saving these lives was the right thing to do. Together with composer Benjamin Rosenbluth and Emmy-winning director Annette Jolles we collaborated on this epic story we're extremely proud to present to audiences beginning tomorrow.
Wallenberg is one of the many Broadway-caliber productions that we at White Plains Performing Arts Center are making available to the Hudson Valley area for a fraction of Broadway prices. So if you live in the Westchester area, or are just craving to attend new and exciting theatre in a vibrant growing cultural environment, we welcome you to join us! And we hope that you will!
Thanks for allowing me your time!