As Hans Krása’s concentration camp opera, Brundibár, prepares to show on the Watford Palace stage, Judi Herman caught a rehearsal and spoke to the cast
Mahogany Opera Group’s critically-acclaimed production of Hans Krása’s Brundibár – the 1938 short children’s opera famously performed in the World War II concentration camp Terezin (German Theresienstadt) – heads to Watford Palace Theatre this weekend. So Judi Herman sat in on a rehearsal and met with the director Frederic Wake-Walker, conductor Alice Farnham and two of the 40-odd talented children recruited for these performances; nine-year-old Erin Daniels, who plays Aninku and 14-year-old Ethan George, who plays her brother Pepíček. Brundibár the evil organ grinder thwarts them in their attempt to raise money by busking to buy milk for their sick mother – until some clever animals come to their aid, enlisting the help of the town’s children. It’s a story of the triumph of the poor and powerless over the big, strong and ruthless that resonated throughout the camp – which is just as powerful today.
Brundibár runs Saturday 18 – Sunday 19 April in Watford and Sunday 28 June in Norwich. 7pm (Sat), 3pm (Sun). £10, £8 children. Watford Palace Theatre, 20 Clarendon Rd, WD17 1JZ; 019 2323 5455. www.watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk 2pm. £10, £6 concs. Norwich Playhouse, NR3 1AB; 016 0359 8598. norwichplayhouse.co.uk
For more on Brundibár, read Judi Herman’s interview with Holocaust survivor Ela Weissberger, who created the role of the Cat in the original production in Terezin. [link to blog]