Back again in 2008, Jordan Beck browse a e book of excerpts from the diaries of five Jewish teenagers who died in the Holocaust. A single of the diarists, Anne Frank, is a identify everybody is aware of, but Beck was stunned he’d by no means heard of the other four.
Now, 14 yrs later on, Beck is ready to launch “Witnesses,” a globe premiere musical that gives voice to five lesser-known Jewish teenager diarists and Holocaust victims. About the years, he has recruited five unique songwriting groups to explain to every teen’s individual tale in song, as perfectly as Tony Award winner Robert L. Freedman to create the e-book for the 90-moment musical. It opens July 15 at the California Middle for the Arts, Escondido.
“Witnesses” is the initially authentic musical made by 2-yr-old CCAE Theatricals, of which Beck is controlling producer and J. Scott Lapp is creative director. Beck conceived the clearly show and co-wrote some of its music, and Lapp is the show’s stage director.
Though studying the 2008 e book, Beck reported he felt a personalized relationship to David Rabinowicz, who was 12 several years aged when he started off his war diary in Poland in Might 1942. He was despatched to a Nazi labor camp two a long time afterwards. Beck explained he was struck by how David and the other teen diarists expert a lot of of the similar concerns that teenagers do right now, but they also wrote about having to put on Jewish stars on their clothing, getting rid of the correct to ride community transportation and experiencing their incredibly unsure potential.
“Today, youngsters get so wrapped up with the little points and they sense like daily life is so tricky. In this present, the little ones are dealing with the identical stresses in daily life, like crushes, not receiving very good grades and acquiring into arguments with their siblings and moms and dads. But then on top of that they are currently being marginalized. What I discovered so inspiring was that up till the issue they stopped crafting, they had been however holding on to hope,” Beck stated.
A songwriter himself, Beck to begin with assumed “Witnesses” would be a 15-track cycle, with three tunes for every teen. In 2011, he informed songwriter Adam Gwon about the thought, and Gwon wrote the show’s title tune “We Will All Be Witnesses.” Over the following quite a few a long time, Beck obtained the musical legal rights for the diaries. Then he hand-picked composer friends whose writing and thematic tastes he imagined have been most effective suited to produce the tunes for each individual teen.
Beck wrote the lyrics and composer Gerald Sternbach the tunes for the tracks centered on Rabinowicz’s diary. Gwon wrote the music and lyrics for Moshe Flinker, a Dutch Jew who was 18 when he died in the Auschwitz dying camp in Poland. Matt Gould, whose musical “Lempicka” is now jogging at La Jolla Playhouse, wrote the music and lyrics for Yitskhok Rudashevski, who was 15 when he was shot to demise in a Jewish ghetto in his native Lithuania in 1943. Composer Carmel Dean and lyricist Mindi Dickstein have collaborated on the songs for Romania-born Éva Heyman, who died in Auschwitz at age 13 in 1944. And Anna K. Jacobs wrote the songs for Renia Spiegel of Poland, who was 18 when she was executed by Nazi law enforcement who identified her magic formula hiding put.
In 2021, Beck attained out to Freedman — who won the 2014 Tony Award for the guide of his Broadway musical “A Gentleman’s Guideline to Adore and Murder” — to request if he’d be interested in doing work on the venture. Freedman agreed and developed dialogue, monologues and ensemble times from unused traces from the teens’ diaries.
“What he did brilliantly is find all these minor nuggets and gems from each individual of the diaries, a sentence listed here and there and weaved alongside one another dialogue,” Beck explained. “I’d compare it to (the musical) ‘Assassins’ in how it normally takes the people out of their time and place and has them interact. They had shared encounters but didn’t know each individual other.”
The exhibit lastly arrived alongside one another in a two-week workshop previous tumble in Escondido. To assure authenticity, the resourceful group labored closely with Jewish guide and historian Raymond Zachary as properly as Natalie Iscovich, the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. Lapp said the workshop was a profound expertise for everyone.
“You generally hope they are moved and react in the trend you hoped they would … and when we finished 1 of the presentations of ‘Witnesses,’ we experienced this frustrating assist of emotion and exhilaration and passion for the undertaking that was amazingly fulfilling,” Lapp stated.
Lapp claimed “Witnesses” could be about occasions that happened long back, but the time to learn from them is now.
“We have some serious complications that have permeated into our culture,” Lapp reported. “We all know it and just can’t pretend that we really do not. It’s known as detest. It’s identified as bullying. It’s named intolerance. It’s known as racism. It’s known as anti-Semitism. Throughout the course of the clearly show, the audience will be posed with a query: What will you do? It is these lessons that we should really stroll absent from the theater imagining about. We are all witnesses.”
When: Opens July 15 and runs by means of July 30. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays via Saturdays. 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
The place: California Middle for the Arts, Escondido, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido
Phone: (800) 988-4253
On the web: artcenter.org