Students present world premiere of French musical

Kristi Ruff

It’s that time of year again! This weekend sees the annual Lawrence University musical production, “When the War is Done.” If you do not go for any other reason, go to watch Lawrence students make history. Although the musical is originally in French, it will make its worldwide English debut this weekend.
“When the War is Done” was translated by Lawrence’s own Charlotte King from the original French production and this weekend’s performance of that translation marks the first time an English-speaking audience will be able to see the show in the audience’s native language. King studied abroad in France in the fall of 2007, and, while there, she worked the French playwright Marie-Céline Lachaud who had written the original lyrics and script for the musical.
King decided to translate the piece and worked with junior Nikko Benson to produce lyrics that would capture the show’s character. The entire show is truly a student production – in addition to being translated and composed by Lawrence students, it is also being directed and produced by senior Peter Welch.
The show itself tells the tale of a number of French citizens living during World War II. Their small community has been completely disrupted by the sudden appearance of the Nazis in France. The show follows some characters as they join the Nazi resistance and other characters who are completely unable to comprehend the events that transpire and therefore attempt to ignore them and deny their reality.
The audience will be drawn in by the aspirations of the young resistance fighters, and the captivating intensity of the show will move all who see it. Not only is the show a tale of resistance during a sinister time in history, it is also a “dark drama mixed with love, deception, betrayal and hope for a nation at war,” said freshman Richie Zamorski.
Though the music for “When the War is Done” was originally composed by Nicholas Skilbeck of London, Benson and King had to spend a lot of time working together to create lyrics that would keep their meaning in translation but would also still sound beautiful and get across the show’s message.
“The music is powerful and very moving,” said Zamorski. “It is in perfect motion with the action on stage.”
“It’s real emotion,” said Amanda Martinez. “We’re not putting on a show … we’re communicating what the characters have to say.”
Sporadic moments of humor and relief help to break up the darker overtones of the story. The story is interwoven between several characters, rather than focusing on just one main one, and so there are many subplots and side stories about things like Sausageland that add interest and detail.
“When the War is Done” is a musical that will inspire the audience to think about what really matters in life through songs about liberty, love and sacrifice. It speaks of the hope that “a day will come when brutality will be forever silenced” and will show the audience that some things, like freedom, are definitely worth the risk.
The show will take place in Cloak Theatre Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25 at 8 p.m., with one matinee performance Saturday at 3 p.m.