Yale Bulletin and Calendar

February 3, 2006|Volume 34, Number 17















Pictured is the set design for "Brundibar," created by Maurice Sendak and Kris Stone.

Works reveal how humans
can 'turn ugliness into music'

A double bill of operas by the creative team of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner and acclaimed author-illustrator Maurice Sendak will be the next offering in the Yale Repertory Theatre's 2005-2006 season.

"Comedy on the Bridge and Brundibar" will be staged Feb. 10-March 5 in the University Theatre, 222 York St. Tony Taccone will direct the two one-act family operas. The former features a libretto by Kushner adapted from Václav Kliment Klicpera and music by Bohuslav Martinu, while the latter is an English adaptation by Kushner after Adolf Hoffmeister's libretto and features music by Hans Krása. Both works will be sung in English.

An absurd commentary on war, "Comedy on the Bridge" was written in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s. In the play, riddles are solved and love is reborn when a pair of young lovers, a businessman and his wife, and a baffled schoolteacher are trapped on a bridge between opposing armies.

An allegory about good triumphing over evil, "Brundibar" was originally composed in the years leading up to World War II and was performed at Terezin, the notorious Nazi "model ghetto." In 2003, Kushner and Sendak collaborated on a picture book version of "Brundibar," which was hailed by Time magazine as "the Picasso of children's books." Like the book and the original opera, this production tells the story of a young brother and sister who join forces with talking animals and a throng of other children to outwit a sinister organ grinder and earn enough money to buy milk for their sick mother.

According to Kushner, "Both shows are a testament to the creative power of human beings, even in dark times, to turn ugliness into music."

Sendak is the production designer for "Comedy on the Bridge and Brundibar." Variety said of the show, "Sendak contributes enchanting sets that look like pop-up storybook illustrations in his distinctive style."

"Comedy on the Bridge and Brundibar" is co-produced with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where it just completed a run. The production will travel to New York City's New Victory Theatre in April following its Yale run.

The New Haven show is presented in association with the Yale School of Music. Musical director Greg Anthony will conduct a rotating ensemble of 13 student musicians .

"Comedy on the Bridge and Brundibar" features scenic design by Kris Stone, costume design by Robin I. Shane, lighting design by Donald Holder and sound design by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen.

The cast includes Anjali Bhimani, Henry DiGiovanni, Matt Farnsworth, Joe Gallagher, Aaron Simon Gross, Geoff Hoyle, Devynn Pedell, Angelina Reáux, Martin Vidnovic and William Youmans. The show also features an ensemble of 30 local schoolchildren.

Director Taccone has been artistic director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre since 1997 and has worked there since 1988, directing over 25 plays. He was previously artistic director of the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco, and he has directed works at numerous regional theaters, including the Yale Rep. One highlight was co-directing the world premiere of Kushner's "Angels in America" at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

This is Kushner's sixth collaboration with Taccone. Kushner's other works include several plays, including "A Bright Room Called Day" and "Angels in America, Parts One and Two" (for which he also wrote the screenplay); adaptations of works by Cornielle, Ansky and Brecht; the screenplay for the Steven Spielberg film "Munich"; and several books, including "Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict," which he co-edited with Alisa Solomon.

Sendak has illustrated over 80 children's books, some 20 of which he also wrote, including his classic trilogy: "Where the Wild Things Are," "In the Night Kitchen" and "Outside Over There." Sendak was awarded the National Medal of the Arts by President Clinton and was the first American to receive the Hans Christian Andersen International Medal for the body of his work. His other designs for musical productions include Mozart's "Magic Flute," Prokofiev's "The Love for Three Oranges," Leo Janácek's "The Cunning Little Vixen" and the Holocaust-themed "A Selection."

"Comedy on the Bridge and Brundibar" will be presented at 8 p.m. nightly, with 2 p.m. matinees on three Saturdays, Feb. 18, 25 and March 4; Sundays, Feb. 26 and March 5; and Wednesday, Feb. 22.

The Yale Rep will offer the following special events at no additional cost during the run of the show: "First Friday" on Feb. 10, a pre-show presentation by members of the creative team with complimentary pizza and soft drinks courtesy of BAR; "Grad Night" on Saturday, Feb. 11, a pre-show discussion with members of the creative team as well as complimentary beer, wine and appetizers for graduate students; "Opening Night Celebration" on Thursday, Feb. 16, with a celebration following the performance at an area restaurant; "Talk Back," post-show question-and-answer sessions with the cast and crew following the matinee performances on Saturdays, Feb. 18 and 25, and Friday evening, Feb. 24; and "Senior Matinee" on Wednesday, Feb. 22, a pre-show presentation by members of the creative team, with refreshments courtesy of Atticus Café.

In addition "Comedy on the Bridge and Brundibar" will be open captioned on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m. and audio described on Saturday, March 4, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $30-$50. All children's tickets are 50% off regular ticket price, and group, senior and student rates are also available. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Yale Rep box office, 1120 Chapel St. (at York); by phone at (203) 432-1234; or online at www.yalerep.org.

The Yale Rep's production of "Comedy on the Bridge and Brundibar" is made possible, in part, with support from Bank of America and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.


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