IMAGINE THIS...

IMAGINE THIS...

  • Genre Musical
  • Stage Music Theatre
  • Premiere10. March 2018
  • Length2:40 hod.
  • Number of reprises21
  • Final performance19. November 2018

a musical about the power of humanity

Masada is an ancient fortress on the top of an isolated crag on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert, approximately 3 km west of the southern edge of the Dead Sea. The fortress was built by Herod the Great in the 1st century B.C. and became the last place of resistance of Jewish rebels against the rule of the Romans during the first Jewish war. The people inside the fortress decided that it was better to die at the hands of their own people than to succumb to their oppressors, and they basically committed mass suicide. This event from the history of his nation long tempted the Israeli composer Shuki Levy.  He has now fulfilled his dream, writing the music for a story produced by the writer Glenn Berenbeim. Along with David Goldsmith, who wrote the song lyrics, they have created a rather special musical show that utilizes the principle of theatre within the theatre.

The musical actually functions on two levels. Daniel Warshowsky persuades his family and friends to perform the historical story of the conquest of Masada as a theatre piece, a musical. It seems inappropriate to many of them that there should be dancing and singing on such a topic but, in the end, Daniel wins them over. What is even more astounding is that it all happens during World War II in the Warsaw ghetto. It is 1942, and the evil of Nazism is at its peak and many family members and friends are being taken away by the infamous trains to concentration camps. Daniel believes that there is a parallel between the historic story and their current situation that will help Warsaw’s inhabitants defend themselves against the Nazis. In his opinion, theatre offers a way of escaping the terrible reality of the ghetto where all of them live.

            The touching story set against the backdrop of the holocaust, a tragedy which must never be forgotten, was first performed in Plymouth in 2007 as a test run, and its premiere subsequently took place on 19th November 2008 at the West End’s New London Theatre. Despite the initial excited reviews, the musical was withdrawn after less than two months as critics who hadn´t even seen the show started to accuse it of trivialising this serious topic. The essential quality of this work is its appellative, unusually deeply moving message. We are showing this musical, with its beautiful emotional music and involving human story, in a Czech premiere directed by Petr Gazdík.

Author

  • Shuki Levy
  • David Goldsmith
  • Glenn Berenbeim

Directed by

Assistant director

Dramaturgist

Music production

Conductor

Choirmaster

Choreography

  • Lucie Holánková

Assistant choreography

Conductor’s assistant

  • Petr Zapletal

Music coordination

  • Tomáš Zedek

Projection

  • Petr Hloušek

Poster

  • Petr Hloušek, Jef Kratochvil, Tino Kratochvil

Music adaption

  • Daniel Kyzlink

Zbrojíř

  • Josef Jurásek

Sound supervision

  • Jiří Topol Novotný

Light direction

  • David Kachlíř

Alterations

  • Petr Gazdík

Sound Direction

  • Michal Hula

Produkce

  • Zdeněk Helbich

Daniel Warshowsky/ Eleazar

Rebecca Warshowsky, dcera Daniela a Hannah / Tamar

Leon, syn Daniela a Hannah / David

Sarah, Danielova sestra / Naomi

Max, manžel Sarah / Jeremiah

Adolph Warshowsky, otec Daniela / Císař

Adam, člen odboje / Silva

Otto / Rufus

Lola / Salome

Jan / Aaron

Izzy / Pompey

Schlomo

Hauptsturmführer Blick, důstojník SS

Hannah Warshowsky

GAZDÍK´S IMAGINE THIS… (…)

Lenka Kolegarová 22. March 2018 zdroj Brněnský deník

(…) Director Petra Gazdík has produced the Czech premiere of the musical Imagine This... It skilfully combines a story from the environment of the Warsaw ghetto in World War II with the ancient conquest of the desert fortress Masada. (…) The main hero, Daniel Warshowsky, decides to provide the exiled Jews with a bit of hope and entertainment. They rehearse for a theatre performance (…) The principle of the play-within-a-play works excellently and enables subsequent transitions between environments. Right from the very beginning, the ghetto scenes have great power and get the audience engaged with the fates of the people as they play out on stage. (…) Overall, an enormous inner force radiates from the acting ensemble. (…) Each and every person contributes their human destinies to the resulting mosaic, creating a whole in the true sense of the word. The central hero, who is the principal of the acting company Daniel Warshowsky as well as the leader of the rebels, Eleazar, is played by Martin Havelka, who is precisely the right type for the role. He can be convincing both in the dramatic scenes and during emotional conversations. And then there’s Rebecca, who is Daniel’s daughter and simultaneously the rebel Tamar: her love for Adam/Silva intertwines both levels of the stories. She is played by “the girl from the poster” Kristýna Daňhelová. She’s only in the second year of her engagement at the theatre, but she makes the most of her opportunity to play such a critical role in the musical, and deals with it very well. The resistance fighter, Adam, and the leader of the legionaries, Silva, were both played with great verve by Dušan Vitázek, who got a lot out of the duality of being both a fighter and a lover. Lukáš Vlček was assigned a character which was clearly written to become a crowd favourite, and his portrayal made it one of the most unforgettable figures of the production. His take on the Christian servant Pompey, who serves a Roman commander out of need, serves as a source of humour and a way of lightening the situation in this predominantly difficult story. His sung dialogue with Aaron (Robert Jícha), a Jew in Roman captivity, about how different approaches to life relate to religion is one of the top experiences of the show. The Roman soldier Rufus, a treacherous “bad guy” with a desire for power, was played by Aleš Slanina with great relish. (…)

 

IMAGINE THIS… AN UNUSUALLY CHILLING MUSICAL

Kateřina Šebelová 14. March 2018 zdroj www.epochtimes.cz

(…) Scenographer Emil Konečný has created a stage set which is hyperrealistic in character. It reminds one of the dirty impersonal spaces of an old house, street or staircase, which could represent either steps or the rocky structure of Masada. This space, where characters crawl along a plank to the balcony, not only expresses the suffering of people, but also a desire for freedom, for something that surpasses the human world. The costumes take us back more than seventy years to the time of the Second World War. The well-made costumes, hair styles and fashion accessories faithfully document the period setting of the production, as well as its name. The people from the ghetto simply didn’t have the money and material to produce costumes and props, so we find ourselves smiling as they make a tablecloth into the emperor’s toga, a pole becomes a sword or spear, or a board forms the path to the summit of the desert cliff. The rest of the costumes are made up of realistic items, whether they be the legionaries’ gear, the clothing worn by civilians in the 1940s or Nazi uniforms. Of course, there are also Jewish elements, which provide the desired mood for the tales being told. As far as the music is concerned, the conductor’s baton is wielded by Dan Kalousek, who leads a covered orchestra that’s almost thirty members strong. The music itself is symphonic, even filmic, in character.  (…) The dramatic musical line alternates with poignant compositions which lighten the weight of events. And there’s a little hint of Jewish rhythms in there too, now and again. (…) Lucie Holánková’s choreography is relatively stylised and manages to extract the maximum effect from fairly minimal resources. And that’s how Brno City Theatre only needs six soldiers to represent an army of ten thousand – they bring an entire Roman legion to life through their effective movements. Particularly captivating is Salome’s dance before the emperor, where she performs the Dance of the Seven Veils as well as a very complex ensemble number. The main part in the musical Imagine This… was played by Martin Havelka in the double role of theatre director Daniel Warshowsky and rebel leader Eleazar. (…) The role of a powerful man who gave hope to others, whether it was decades or millennia ago, suits Martin Havelka down to the ground. (…)

 

IMAGINE THIS... A MUSICAL WHICH CHILLS YOU TO THE BONE

Vítězslav Sladký 14. March 2018 zdroj www.musical-opereta.cz

(…) It just isn’t easy to make a musical about the Holocaust, but the director found the key to success lay with the main character. Despite the sadness of the tale, he balanced out the poignant message with elements of humour and most of all the great inner strength of this production which is without parallel in the current Czech musical scene. (…) Petr Gazdík managed to get the whole ensemble to believe in the story, its depth, strength and message. As it goes with plays-within-plays, the heroes have two names. The central character of Daniel Warshowsky, alias Eleazar, is played by Martin Havelka. He is still that acting “hot-shot” whose charisma gets the audience involved in the action and keeps the contact between them and the actors alive. His Warshowsky is wise, determined and real. He has the authority to keep things afloat even in the darkest of moments. (…) Daniel’s daughter Rebecca, who falls in love with resistance fighter Adam during the rehearsals for the performance, is played and sung in thrilling fashion by the sensuous Kristýna Daňhelová, JAMU graduate and new member of the ensemble. Another of Warshowsky’s children, (…) Leon, provides another great child role for Adam Gazdík. (…) A more expressive character, acting-wise, is that of Sarah, who is beautifully played and sung by Ivana Vaňková. The crowd favourite this time was Lukáš Vlček as Izzy. Not only did he appear in the parallel story from Masada as a “Christian” who sacrificed himself for his Jewish friend, he also lightened the story up a bit with several humorous comments and scenes. His cardinal opposite is Rufus, a tough and treacherous military leader who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. A lovely assignment for Aleš Slanina, who has been the go-to for a “good guy” character in so many productions. Dušan Vitázek provides Adam, the hunted member of the anti-Nazi resistance, with the right amount of heroism, while as the leader of the Roman army Silva he has no problem coping with the more subtle nuances of playing an understanding and enamoured man who is willing to sacrifice even his military career for love. As regards the more minor roles I must not forget to mention Diana Velčická, who gave a brilliant singing and dancing performance as Salome, or Igor Ondříček in the role of another exemplary evil blackguard, the SS officer Blick. And of course there were others with smaller contributions that were deserving of praise, as was the perfectly synchronised company as a whole. (…)

 

WHEN A MUSICAL ISN’T JUST A MOUNTAIN OF SUGAR

Luboš Mareček 13. March 2018 zdroj www.mestohudby.cz

Brno City Theatre recently premiered a musical called Imagine This…at their Music Theatre. It’s a very interesting piece whose skilfully composed story, excellent music and strong moral appeal or overlap will get theatregoers mentally engaged. (…) The device known as a “play-within-a-play” is cleverly used here to great effect, and everything can also be seen as a homage to the art of theatre, as a great tribute to the human imagination and the immortal desire to narrate and act. Of course, the predominant feature of the piece is its great celebration of the unrestrainedness and freedom of the human spirit which is an essential precondition for a dignified and meaningful earthly existence. (…) One of the things which made an impression on me in the musical Imagine This…, apart from the storyline, is the music by Shuki Levy. It sometimes almost moves into symphonic film music territory, but forms a complete and dramatic whole intertwined with the elements of the story. The choral numbers as well as the individual songs and impressive duets seem to flow from it naturally. It is a pleasure to listen to it being delivered live by the Brno City Theatre orchestra. (…) The stars of the evening are Kristýna Daňhelová and Dušan Vitázek in the roles of the main couple, a man and woman who are lovers in both time periods. What is particularly to be appreciated about both their performances is that they never allow themselves to drown in sentiment and romantic folly.

The interesting negative figure of a Jewish informant is played by the gorgeous Diana Velčická, whose treacherous Lola wins over the audience with her seductive dance as Salome. Her interpretation of an ancient strip dance is performed with exceptional grace and is one of the most impressive parts of the evening. I’m also not afraid to apply the word “unique” to the performance by Lukáš Vlček either. He plays the cunning servant Pompey, who subsequently becomes one of the first Christian martyrs. The naturalness of his acting is disarming. (…) Brno City Theatre’s production of the musical Imagine This… represents a truly exceptional revitalization of their musical repertoire. It is a clever, very impressive and well-made example of musical theatre. How wonderful it is that this theatre which acts, sings and dances continues to address such topics and concepts with such urgency. (…)

 

IMAGINE THIS… THEY EVEN PERFORMED THEATRE IN THE GHETTO

(tr) 12. March 2018 zdroj www.brnozurnal.cz

Whoever experienced the premiere (or one of the repeat performances, no doubt) of Brno City Theatre’s new musical named Imagine This… was witness to an amazing phenomenon. It was a deep collective experience for both the audience and the cast. (…) Two stories were told at the Music Theatre, each with the same common denominator – people in a hopeless situation. Despite this, they remain brave. In the Warsaw ghetto in 1942 the father of a family Daniel Warshowsky persuades his family and friends to put on a musical together from the history of the Jewish people about the conquest of Masada. Many of them refuse to sing and dance about a topic like that, but in the end they agree. (…) During the course of both stories the plots intertwine. There is the romantic element of a love story between the Roman general Silva (Dušan Vitázek) and a Jewish rebel from Masada (Kristýna Daňhelová). Against Silva, who doesn’t want to kill the Jews, stands the evil Rufus (Aleš Slanina), who is loyal to Rome. In the ghetto these characters are played by resistance fighter Adam, the director’s daughter Tamar and one of the ghetto inhabitants, Otto. It is Daňhelová who gets most involved in the action through both of her characters. Her captivating singing is underlined by the unobtrusive yet distinctive music by the renowned Israeli composer Shuki Levy. (…) Havelka, Vitázek, and also Ivana Vaňková in the role of Daniel’s sister and the “romantic” Naomi convincingly create what is by the standards of musicals an unusually tense drama. (…) Diana Velčická sings, speaks and dances very well as Lola and primarily as Salome, whom the Roman leader sends to General Silva as a gift. The erotic scene, featuring the gradual removal of several layers of light clothing, is very inventive. (…) The scenes where the whole ensemble sing and dance “in full force” are fantastic. (…)

 

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