BWW Review: THE WHITE ROSE: WE DEFIED HITLER Opens at the Coterie Theatre in Kansas City
The powerfully moving play, THE WHITE ROSE: WE DEFIED HITLER, by David Meyers opened Friday, January 24, at The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City. The 70-minute play is produced in cooperation with the University of Missouri at Kansas City Theatre Department and produced with the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education. The show based on actual events runs at The Coterie through February 9.
Directed by Markus Potter and Jeff Church, Producing Artistic Director of The Coterie, the play takes place in 1943 Germany, then under Nazi control. The resistance group known as The White Rose offered non-violent, intellectual opposition to Adolph Hitler and his Nazi government. The group was led by students of the University of Munich and included Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie. They distributed leaflets and created a graffiti campaign from June of 1942 to the arrest of the Scholl's and other core members by the Gestapo in February of 1943.
The students arrested faced the Nazi People's Court (Volksgerichtshof) and many were imprisoned or sentenced to death by guillotine. The Coterie production examines little-known facts about Sophie and her brother after their arrest and detainment by the Gestapo. During Sophie's interrogation, she is given several opportunities to confess to what the Nazi's considered treason and possibly save her own life. She is torn between her own righteous beliefs and the sometimes-overwhelming desire to keep living.
Robert Gibby Brand stars as Kurt Grunwald the Nazi officer appointed the task of questioning and obtaining a confession from Sophie. Brand gives a versatile performance in the role, one-moment showing sympathy for Sophie and next stern and strict conforming to his Nazi beliefs and role. At the beginning of the interrogation he comes off as caring and honest, but later as he disciplines Sophie it becomes clear what a monster he and the Nazi Party are. He has made several appearances at The Coterie including THE JUNGLE BOOK, GATHERINGS IN GRAVEYARDS, AND ANIMAL FAIR. He has also appeared with Musical Theater Heritage and The Unicorn Theatre among others.
Morgan Lynn Sterrett does a good performance in the starring role of Sophie. Her body language and facial expressions are on-point with the actions and dialogue on stage. However, I felt she didn't sell the character of Sophie (I found it hard to have empathy for the character) because it seemed the infliction in her voice seldom seemed to change. The most emotion in her voice comes when she is speaking to Hans and decides she wants to live. She previously appeared in BEAT BUGS: A MUSICAL ADVENTURE at The Coterie. This summer she will appear in FREAKY FRIDAY at The New Theatre Restaurant.
Jordan Luty gives a wonderful performance as Han's. He made his acting debut this season in RISE UP: THE STRUGGLE OF THE FREEDOM RIDERS. He has also appeared in A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS at The Coterie.
The historical and educational value of THE WHITE ROSE makes it a must-see for children over 12 and adults. THE WHITE ROSE continues at The Coterie Theatre through February 9. To purchase tickets online go to www.thecoterie.org.
Pictures courtesy of Erin Stricker