‘The Fireflies’ provides history and song
Students lit up Bush Theater Wednesday at the opening night of the University Theatre production “The Fireflies,” a play performed by children in the German ghetto Terezín during World War II. Sophomore Matt Kurzyniec played the lead character, Brouchek, a firefly boy. Kurzyniec said he developed an interest in the show after talking about Terezín in a class he had with Assistant Professor of Communication and Dramatic Arts Lauren McConnell, who is also the playwright of the production being put on at Central Michigan University. “It has been a very interesting but fun process because something’s always changing or something’s always new,” the Livonia said. “So, I think in that sense, it’s a lot different from a normal show but I think that’s what makes it more fun.” Kurzyniec said he spoke with the show’s narrator, 77-year-old Holocaust survivor Vera Meisels, who played the role of the ladybug in the actual production. “It’s been really interesting to watch her take on it, to see what she remembers from her production and how we’ve actually incorporated a lot of those fan traits to keep it as authentic as possible,” Kurzyniec said.
Spring Lake freshman Rebecca Hochhuth played the role of the ladybug in the production. The musical theater major auditioned for the play after being drawn to its story.
“I was especially drawn to this one because I love history, and the fact there was going to be a Holocaust survivor with us, that is what definitely drew me in because the chance to meet someone with that great knowledge and pastime is just incredible,” Hochhuth said. “And, also it’s so much fun because it’s a children’s show. So, it’s so light, sweet and funny.”
After getting a part for the show, Hochhuth said they didn’t immediately begin rehearsing the show, but, instead, spent time learning more about it.
“After we found out we were in the show, for a week we didn’t even look at our lines or worry about the show,” Hochhuth said. “We learned about history every single night … We were very well-educated before we started rehearsing.”
Likewise, Saginaw senior Megan Barnard, who plays the role of the godmother, said she realized how much value the show has when she met the narrator.
“It’s interesting because we’re storybook characters, but we’re characters that meant so much to so many people during the Holocaust,” Barnard said. “It wasn’t truly put into a good perspective for me until I actually got to meet Vera and read one of her short stories.”
The production will run Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Bush Theater in Moore Hall. Students can purchase tickets in advance or at the window.
Note: This article incorrectly states that Terezín was in Germany. It was in Czechoslovakia.
[Rebecca Hochhuth as Veronica, center; Paige Wisniewski right, photo by Peggy Brisbane; set & lighting design by Stan Jensen; costume, hair & makeup design by Ann Dasen.]