by RS Bailey
We live in an era when the only remaining survivors of the Nazi death camps were children when they were interned. Their testimonies witnessing modern history’s greatest horror story are the last authentic versions we will hear. It is also an era when Hitler and the horrors of Nazi Germany have become an accepted topic for humor and jokes throughout our culture, and when government officials in countries like Iran echo the continuing neo-Nazi, Hitlerite rhetoric that the holocaust is a lie. Absurd as it might seem there are people who believe it, and they relish the belief.
With this in mind I was interested to see the World Premiere Musical, “No Time To Weep”, at the Matrix Theatre. It is billed as the story of “A Young Girl Who Survives Auschwitz.” As someone who has met several Aushwitz and Dachau survivors, as well as members of the famed 442nd U.S. Army regiment of Japanese Nisei troops who liberated Dachau in 1945, I wondered how you make a death camp into a “musical”. A play with music perhaps, but a musical?
“No Time To Weep”, the book was written by Lucy Deutsch. Lyrics were written by Lucy Deutsch and Deedee O’Malley. Music was composed Deedee O’Malley and Ivor Pyres. Her entire family was interned to Aushwitz from Czechoslovakia. She was 14 at the time. The play is a heartfelt biography. The experience of Aushwitz is dealt with in the first act. The music is haunting and strong throughout this section occasionally evoking memories of Kurt Weill’s work with Bertold Brecht. The music is affecting as are the performances. Many of the first act moments are emotionally devastating.
Less can be said for the second act which lacks any real drama, glossing over Lucy’s escape from the Russians, a bad marriage with a cheating husband, and the building of a fashion accessory business in the U.S. In short, the second act is anti-climatic, although its opening brings for one of the best songs of the show, “Paper Children”, a ballad in memory of lost children.
The large cast is led by Caitlin Gallogly, who handles young Lucy with deep, honestly felt emotion. She has a lovely singing voice but from time to time is difficult to hear. A memorable performance is also turned in by Patricia Canale. In fact, the entire cast, consisting of Christopher Callen, Heidi James, Sarah Ann Vail, Cat Hardy, Edward Gusts, Vince Lasalvia, Stephen, Beitler, Jordan White, Daniella Cartun, Luke Edward, Lynde Houck, Garen Petrossian, David Baer, Flo Lawrence, Hilary Prentice, Jennie Floyd, and Jerome St. Jerome, is excellent.
Ivor Pyres has produced, directed and designed with a steady hand as well as having arranged and co-composed the music. Kedar Lawrence’s lighting design is effective; Daniella Cartun’s costumes realistically evoke the several time periods, and Pyres set provides a constructivist simplified realism that serves the play well. Derek Reymer’s music direction adds immeasurably.
“No Time To Weep” is a play well worth seeing even if the modern biographical elements are not as riveting as the World War II sections.
The Matrix Theatre is located at 7657 Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood.
Performances are Thurs. through Sat. at 8 PM, Sun. at 2 PM, through June 3.
Call (323) 960-7780 for tickets and information.
Tickets are $25.