Kushner heads to Berkeley

'Brundibar' will will travel to Yale, New York

Corrections were made to this article on Aug. 11, 2005

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — “Brundibar/Comedy on the Bridge,” a musical work in two parts with a libretto by Tony Kushner and designs by Maurice Sendak, will bow in November at Berkeley Repertory Theater in Berkeley, Calif. It then will travel to Yale Repertory Theater in February and New York’s New Victory Theater in April.

Tony Taccone, artistic director at Berkeley Rep, will direct.

Musical will be a joint production of Berkeley Rep, where it will run Nov. 11-Dec. 28, and Yale Rep. Another regional theater may join in the co-production, which requires a large children’s chorus.

The musical work, described as “an allegory of innocence triumphing over evil,” is in two parts, with a libretto by Kushner adapted from the work of Adolf Hoffmeister and Vaclava Klimenta Klicpery.

One is “Brundibar” (The Bumble Bee), based on a children’s book published last year that was a collaboration between Kushner and Sendak. The book’s source material was a 1938 Czech opera by Hans Krasa with a libretto by Hoffmeister. Krasa was imprisoned in the Terezin concentration camp and later died in Auschwitz.

Story is a fanciful tale of two children who attempt to earn money to buy milk for their sick mother by singing in the town square; they enlist the help of talking animals and fellow schoolchildren to triumph over a bully.

“Brundibar” was studied by Jewish children in a Prague orphanage and, after their deportation to the concentration camp at Terezin, staged by them on Sept. 23, 1943, under the direction of Rudolph Freudenfeld with an instrumental ensemble drawn from the camp.

Musical will be paired with “Comedy on the Bridge,” a short opera written in the ’30s by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu, performed by adults. It is described as an absurd commentary on war.

A production of “Brundibar,” with sets by Sendak, was performed at the Chicago Opera Theater in 2003.

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