Thursday, March 18, 2010

The acclaimed London musical Imagine This comes to WSBE Rhode Island PBS on April 1 at 8 PM. The musical tells the story of a group of Jewish actors in the Warsaw Ghetto who struggle to keep alive the dream of freedom and the will to resist among the prisoners of the ghetto. The troupe performs the epic tale Masada, about a small band of courageous Jewish rebels who held at bay 10,000 Roman soldiers on the ancient Judean mountain 2,000 years ago. The play within the play sets up a powerful contrast between fantasy and reality.

Although the Jewish Holocaust is an unlikely subject for a musical, Imagine This, in the tradition of Fiddler on the Roof, deals respectfully with its sobering subject matter through song and dance. Director Beth Trachtenberg consulted with Holocaust survivors, and incorporated some of their stories into the script.

In researching the musical, I found it interesting that some London theater critics focused their negative reviews on the subject, rather than the merit or deficiency of technical and theatrical performances. On the other hand, audiences seem to love the show, offering high praise and reporting standing ovations at performances.

You will have an opportunity to decide for yourself. Imagine This airs on WSBE Rhode Island PBS on Thursday, April 1 at 8 PM.