Dinner theatre draws adulation, anonymous threat – February 18, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Abruzzi proprietor Chris Smith was presented with flowers and a signed portrait of the cast of Wandering Appetites on the play's final night. KLH | Eye

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

DOWNTOWN – Northcoast Preparatory Academy’s presentation of Wandering Appetites sold out the Abruzzi restaurant in Jacoby’s Storehouse last week, with two more performaces scheduled this week. The Wednesday, Feb. 17 finale went till nearly midnight, with a lengthy dialogue between the young actors and attendees.

A mash-up of three other musicals – The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof and The Wicked Cooks, the play includes Nazi characters who harass the Von Trapp family. The young actors portraying the Nazis created a minor stir when spotted in uniform, complete with swastika armbands, outside Abruzzi’s side entrance.

Thursday morning, a caller left a message on Abruzzi’s reservation line threatening to report the restaurant to the federal government and Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Said the caller:

I’m calling about the article on the front page of the Times-Standard. You might be full tonight, but when I get through investigating you and the theatre, with your Nazi, um, children, your children dressed as Nazis gets investigated by the Anti-Defamation League and the federal government, let’s see how smug you are then. Do you understand? I want a public apology in the newspaper by next week, or else I’m calling everybody, and believe me, I will.

I’m calling about the article on the front page of the Times-Standard. You might be full tonight, but when I get through investigating you and the theatre, with your Nazi, um, children, your children dressed as Nazis gets investigated by the Anti-Defamation League and the federal government, let’s see how smug you are then. Do you understand? I want a public apology in the newspaper by next week, or else I’m calling everybody, and believe me, I will.

Click here to hear an angry caller demanding an apology for presenting “Nazi children”

The caller left no name or contact information. She appears to believe the play is sympathetic towards Nazis, or advocates Nazi philosophy. Based on 1949 book, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, The Sound of Music went on the become a successful Broadway play and an Academy Award-winning movie. Though the film created a limited controversy in Germany on its release, it hasn’t been considered controversial nor Nazi-friendly.

“I’m not exactly sure what she’s angry about,” said Camden Bruner, who played Herr Zeller in the play. “The Sound of Music clearly portrays Nazis as bad guys, in no way glorifying that.”

Nicole Barchilon Frank, a community activist who frequently writes about politics and social issues from a Jewish perspective, didn’t agree with the anonymous caller.

“It’s theatre and it’s important,” Frank said. “I don’t think you can put on a theatrical performance about that time period without Nazis. It wasn’t a pro-Nazi rally on the Plaza.”

Abruzzi proprietor Chris Smith surmised that the caller hadn’t attended any of the performances, and didn’t understand the presentation. “The common thread throughout the play was the victimization and dispersal of Jews throughout the 1930s, and the havoc it caused,” Smith said. “I’m dismayed that she [the caller] didn’t have a chance to experience the play.”

Frank said that to minimize misunderstandings, some forewarning could have been offered that the faux Nazis were only actors.  “It might have been a good idea to send a cautionary letter, or make an announcement that that symbol was going to be used. We have several members of our community who are [Holocaust] survivors and whose families were murdered in front of them.”

She likened the unexpected appearance of persons in Nazi uniforms on the streets to the effect loud noises might have on combat veterans. “It’s best to forewarn people so it’s not a sock in the gut,” she said.

If some community members were caught unawares, the lads portraying the Nazis weren’t. “It’s not like the actors were tricked into wearing swastikas,” NPA student Bruner said. “We had a very solid grasp of what that symbol means.

Bruner said the theatrical presentation provided a means of explicating and understanding a tragic era in human history. “If you don’t talk about it, it’s bound to happen again,” he said.

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2 Responses to “Dinner theatre draws adulation, anonymous threat – February 18, 2010”

  1. Brad

    Wow the “Angry Caller” is using the same tactics the Nazis did. Calling in the Goons and threats of the secret police to suppress what she feels is “decadent art”.

    If anyone deserves a hearty “Sieg Heil!” it is “Angry Caller”.

    #62
  2. Exaaaaaaaaaaactly

    “If you don’t talk about it, it’s bound to happen again.”

    #584

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