Categories: Opera & Musicals, Family, History/Science/Life

Motor City Youth Theatre (MCYT), presents the children’s opera, Brundibár, originally performed by the children of Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia during World War II.

The opera is a sweet fairy tale about two small children who must get milk for their mother who is ill. The children have no money and are confronted by adults who don’t offer any help. Three animals as well as the entire child population soon aid the children, and all ends well.

The second half of the evening performance will include short scenes and monologues relating to the Holocaust and will be performed by some of the children. The cast includes young people from the Detroit Metropolitan area.

The Grantland Street Playhouse is located at 27555 Grantland, Livonia.

The production runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $15, with a discounted price of $12 for seniors  and children. Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted.

 For more information, call (313) 535-8962 or visit

Venue: Grantland Street Playhouse
Organization: Motor City Youth Theatre   
GREAT STUFF, OCT 16, 2008 

Monica Nelson of Redford (center) is one of two girls playing the part of Brundibar in the children's opera by Motor City Youth Theatre. The show opens Friday, Oct. 17, at the Grantland Street Playhouse in Livonia.

Nancy Florkowski never thought she'd be producing a children's opera but was haunted by Brundibar. The work was originally performed by the inmates of the Terezin Concentration Camp during World War II in the country now known as The Czech Republic. While the opera itself is a fairy tale, it's the setting that kept calling to Florkowski every time she passed the script on the shelf of her Redford home.

The first half of the production is a performance of the opera about two children who triumph over evil with the help of talking animals, but it is followed by scenes and monologues relating to the Holocaust, which left six million Jews dead.

The Motor City Youth Theatre opens the show Friday, Oct. 17, at the Grantland Street Playhouse in Livonia. It is a complete departure from the musicals Florkowski usually produces. In preparation for the performance, several of the older children toured the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills.

Brundibar was composed by Hans Krasa and written by Adolf Hoffmeister.

"I wanted our youth theater to do something very meaningful," said Florkowski, youth theater founder and artistic director. "It's a big undertaking with a cast of 33 kids. I doubled and tripled some of the parts. It's only half an hour long. It's hard for kids to be serious because they're so goofy but I think it's going to make a big impact on the audience."

The production has already left an impression on Amelia Fanelli, a 13-year old student at Dunckel Middle School in Farmington Hills. Fanelli plays an art teacher sent to the concentration camp which was a walled ghetto for Jews from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, and The Netherlands. Her 6-year old brother William is in the chorus.

Fanelli was able to identify with parts of the production, mainly the fear. It reminded her of the time when she was 8 years old and her grandmother was supposed to pick her up from swim practice, but got the time wrong and left Fanelli alone in the dark.

"I think historically it's of great significance, but I think they're going to get more out the second half," said Fanelli. "A lot of characters in my scene were real people and were totally forgotten about. My character could only pack 110 pounds and bring it to the camp. She packed almost all art supplies for the children."

What: The fairy tale children's opera is followed by scenes and monologues relating to the Holocaust
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 17-26
Where: Grantland Street Playhouse, 27555 Grantland, Livonia
Tickets: $12-15. Call (313) 535-8962 or send e-mail to nlflo@aol.


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