November 24, 2010

Wallenberg survivors at the “Wallenberg” Musical

On Sunday, November 14, 2010, a delegation of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) attended a performance of “Wallenberg” Musical. Currently in its world premiere production at the White Plains Performing Arts Center (WPPAC), “Wallenberg” has already won acclaim of critics and public since its first public readings in 2005.

Sunday was long awaited for all of us at the foundation as the IRWF has been supporting the musical in a role of an associate producer since its early days. It was our wish to share this joyful occasion with our guests, among them many Holocaust Survivors who were rescued by Wallenberg.

The paintings from the “Wallenberg Series” by Armand Frederick Vallée, donation of the Vallée trust to the IRWF, were viewed by attendees in the lobby of the WPPAC. First shown in the U.S. at the cultural space of the IRWF in January of 2010, the series of paintings is currently on loan for the run of the musical.

With a cast of 26 among which are Scott Mikita (Phantom of the Opera, Into the Woods) as Raoul Wallenberg; and Leah Horowitz (Les Misérables, Fiddler on the Roof) as Baroness Elisabeth Fuchs Kemeny, “Wallenberg” brings to life the fascinating and uplifting story of Raoul Wallenberg, one of the greatest heroes of the twentieth century.

In July 1944, the 32-year-old Wallenberg, an ordinary businessman from Stockholm, left the safety of neutral Sweden and went into Nazi-occupied Hungary. In a six-month stay there, he managed to save tens of thousands of people, more than were rescued by any other individual, organization or government during the WWII.

For our guests survivors – Agnes and David Adler, Vera Koppel, George Schwartz, Rebbetzin Judith Friedlander, George and Agota Adler, Gisell Bulow, Anita Riska – and their families, what Wallenberg did meant a difference between life and death. Although seeing the musical brought painful memories no one felt sad. Apart from well-crafted story, a formidable cast, and a masterfully done score and directing, that might be the musical’s strongest asset – its inspirational and uplifting story that shows what a single man can do in fighting the evil.

That idea was also behind the essay contest organized at the local Middle and Highs Schools where students were asked to write about heroes. More than 200 entries were received and the winners in each category were honored on Sunday with $500 award sponsored by the IRWF.

We are happy to have this opportunity to back up a project that truly represents the spirit of Wallenberg. Seeing a full auditorium and a standing ovation at the musical’s last song, as well as listening to the highly positive remarks from survivors, and the people in attendance that stayed for the Q&A session after the show, all strengthened our determination to stay with musical creators on this incredible journey.

Read winning essays:

Sydney Monoroe Middle School Essay Contest Winner

Sean Haughey High School Essay Contest Winner