(APRIL 20 – RED BANK) The Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy today announced a summer residency with famed Los Angeles Opera director Eli Villanueva on a summer opera camp program for vocalists aged 10-17.

The two-week intensive, open to students of all vocal types, culminates with a pair of performances of Brundibar, the famed children’s opera originally staged at the Theresientadt concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia. Needs-based scholarships will be available to those students who qualify.

A Brundibar cast photo taken at the Terezin Concentration Camp
(Courtesy: Jewish Museum of Prague)

The public performances will take place on Saturday, August 19 at the Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank and on Sunday, August 20 at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River. Tickets for both events are on sale now via the venue websites (www.thebasie.org; www.grunincenter.org).

“While putting together a children’s work of great historical significance,” the L.A. Opera’s Villanueva says, “we will explore and master ways to be a more engaging, more powerful and musical stage performer – all in a focused yet fun environment.”

Brundibar, by Jewish Czech composer Hans Krása, tells the story of a brother and sister who join forces with a sparrow, a cat and a dog to outwit an evil organ grinder named Brundibar. Brundibar was performed by the children of Theresienstadt concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia, and has since been staged around the world to symbolize the plight of people joining forces to fight intolerable situations. “It was performed at the camp 55 times, providing distraction and perhaps a small respite from the misery,” according to the New York Times. “But it was also exploited by the Nazis for propaganda purposes in their attempts to present Theresienstadt as a comfortable environment.”

In 2003, Playwright and filmmaker Tony Kushner (Munich, Angels In America) and illustrator Maurice Sendak (Where The Wild Things Are), wrote and illustrated a book on the play, which they adapted to the stage for a series of critically-acclaimed performances in 2006 in Chicago.

Villanueva will be joined by musical director Jason Tramm, an assistant professor and director of choral activities at Seton Hall University.

Brundibar teaches the importance of tolerance, overcoming tyranny and our duty to question authority,” says Adam Philipson, President and CEO, Count Basie Theatre. “The Basie is thrilled to be working with The Jay and Linda Grunin Center to bring such an important and inspiring children’s opera to the Jersey Shore.”


Saturday, May 20th

Location: Count Basie Theatre, 99 Monmouth Street, Red Bank

Call 732-224-8778 x 125 to arrange for a timeslot


Monday, Aug. 7 – Friday, Aug. 18 | 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM

Location: Monmouth Conservatory of Music Building, 50 White Street, Red Bank

Needs-based scholarships are available. Call 732-224-8778 for more info.


Count Basie Theatre: Saturday, August 19th

Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts: Sunday, August 20th