(RED BANK, NJ) -- The Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy has revealed the names of cast members studying under Los Angeles Opera director Eli Villanueva for a pair of performances in collaboration with the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts at Ocean County College. Performances will be held in Red Bank and Toms River.
The students, part of a two-week intensive headed by Villanueva, will perform Brundibár and Friedl, a pair of dramatic presentations set in Germany’s Theredienstadt concentration camp during World War II. Villanueva will be joined by musical director Jason Tramm, an assistant professor and director of choral activities at Seton Hall University.
Tickets for the Count Basie Theatre performance at 8:00pm on Saturday, Aug. 19 and the Grunin Center performance at 2:00pm on Sunday, Aug. 20 are on sale now by clicking through or visiting the venue box offices. All tickets are priced at $20.
“Brundibár and Friedl tell important stories of a part our history that we cannot forget or allow to happen again,” said Adam Philipson, President and CEO, Count Basie Theatre. “The stories demonstrate how even under the direst of circumstances, the arts can be transformative.”
“I believe that our performances, made up of some of the most talented young vocalists in Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties, will convey the important messages of the need to overcome injustice and forge a path of tolerance and mutual understanding.”
The following young vocalists have been named to the Brundibár and Friedl casts:
Brundibár: Lauryn Boyle (Wall, chorus); Lev Brewer (Tinton Falls, chorus); Catherine Creed(Highlands, chorus); Cakie Dym (Rumson, chorus); Frances Forte (Rumson, ‘Little Joe’); Amir Kamal (East Brunswick, chorus); Jack Kelly (Toms River, chorus); Olivia Lee (Manahawkin, chorus); Isabella Lee (Manahawkin, chorus); Lydia Lu (Red Bank, chorus); Olivia Marino (Toms River, chorus); Regina Messenger (Toms River, chorus); Isabella Moitoso (Holmdel, chorus); Alejandra Morales (Bayville, ‘Milkman’); Amanda Philipson (Little Silver, ‘Bird’); Andreas Psillos(Toms River, ‘Policeman’) Camille Pugliese (Red Bank, ‘Ice Cream Vendor’); Abigail Pukin(Holmdel, ‘Annette’); Sofia Ranucci (Interlaken, ‘Baker’); Francesca Ranucci (Interlaken, chorus); Nevaeh Sickles (Ocean, chorus); Mia Spallina (Manahawkin, chorus); Grace Sweeney (West Long Branch, chorus); Claire Taylor (Ocean, ‘Dog’); Ria Kiafoulis (Middletown, chorus); Alexandra Pennington (Middletown, chorus); Skylar Yannello (Holmdel, ‘Cat’); Nick DiBlasi (Holmdel, chorus); Trinitee Smith (Red Bank, chorus); Eli Fisch (Elberon, chorus); Alicia Henderson(Manalapan, chorus); Amaya Love (Lakewood, chorus); Nevaeh Love (Lakewood; chorus)
Friedl: Lauryn Boyle (Wall, chorus); Lev Brewer (Tinton Falls, ‘Jerry Rind’); Catherine Creed(Highlands, ‘Tella’); Frances Forte (Rumson, chorus); Amir Kamal (East Brunswick, ‘Josef Novak’); Jack Kelly (Toms River, ‘Ivo Keo Kaytz’); Olivia Lee (Manahawkin, chorus); Isabella Lee(Manahawkin, chorus); Lydia Lu (Red Bank, ‘Ruth’); Olivia Marino (Toms River, ‘Ela’) Isabella Moitoso (Holmdel, chorus); Amanda Philipson (Little Silver, ‘Anita’); Andreas Psillos (Toms River, ‘Peter Ginz’); Camille Pugliese (Red Bank, chorus) Abigail Pukin (Holmdel, ‘Helga’); Sofia Ranucci(Interlaken, ‘Eva’); Nevaeh Sickles (Ocean, ‘Maria’); Mia Spallina (Manahawkin, ‘Flaska’); Claire Taylor (Ocean, ‘Friedl’); Ria Kiafoulis (Middletown, ‘Lilly’); Alexandra Pennington (Middletown, chorus); Skylar Yannello (Holmdel, chorus); Nick DiBlasi (Holmdel, chorus); Trinitee Smith (Red Bank, chorus); Eli Fisch (Elberon, chorus); Alicia Henderson (Manalapan, chorus); Amaya Love (Lakewood; chorus).
Brundibár, by Jewish Czech composer Hans Krása, tells the story of a brother and sister who join forces with a sparrow, a cat and a dog to outwit an evil organ grinder named Brundibár. Brundibár was performed by the children of Theresienstadt concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia, and has since been staged around the world to symbolize the plight of people joining forces to fight intolerable situations. “It was performed at the camp 55 times, providing distraction and perhaps a small respite from the misery,” according to the New York Times. “But it was also exploited by the Nazis for propaganda purposes in their attempts to present Theresienstadt as a comfortable environment.”
Friedl tells the story of Theresienstadt prisoner Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, a teacher from Prague who, like all prisoners, were permitted to carry just 50 kilos of personal belongings. While most prisoners understandably chose to pack valuables and personal belongings, Dicker-Brandeis used her allowance to carry art supplies. “Upon arrival in Theresienstadt, children were forcefully separated from their parents and family and sent to live alone in overcrowded children’s houses,” according to the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. “The starvation, illness and brutality of Theresienstadt, along with lack of stability and structure, put an enormous strain on the coping mechanisms of these children. They desperately needed direction and purpose, and Friedl was there to give them that.”
The Basie’s inaugural opera camp season is sponsored by OceanFirst, and Brundibár is presented by arrangement with Bote & Block Berlin and Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.