"Irena's Vow" – in Collaboration with Cardinal Stritch University - by Dan Gordon, will be directed by Suzan Fete and feature Julie Swenson as Irena at Cardinal Stritch University's Nancy Kendall Theater, Oct. 26-27, Nov. 2-3 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 28, Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 adults, $10 seniors and $6 students. For more information or to order tickets, call (414) 410-4171.
Based on the life of Irena Gut Opdyke, this is a remarkable story of a "righteous rescuer" and one triumph of the human spirit over the devastation of the Holocaust. 19-year old Irena Gut is conscripted as housekeeper in the home of a powerful Nazi officer when she finds out that the Jewish ghetto is about to be liquidated. Determined to help 12 Jewish workers, she decides to shelter them in the safest place she can think of: the basement of the German commandant's house. Over the next two years, Irena uses her wit, humor and courage to hide her friends until the end of the German occupation, concealing them in the midst of countless Nazi parties, a blackmail scheme, and even the birth of a child. Her story is one of the most inspiring of our time.
This production, a Milwaukee premiere, is a collaboration with Milwaukee's Renaissance Theaterworks. Renaissance Artistic Director Suzan Fete will direct and professional actors Julie Swenson and Drew Brhel will play the roles of Irena and Major Rugemer.
JeAnnie Smith, the daughter of Irena Gut Opdyke, will be on the Stritch campus for presentation to the students, staff and faculty and will speak to three area high schools on Thursday, October 25th. David Oswald of Cardinal Stritch University remarked "The collaboration (RTW and Cardinal Stritch University) has been an impetus for forging of several partnerships within the external community."
Some of the partnerships include HERC (the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center), the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, and the Polish Center of Wisconsin. The production has been supported by a variety of donors from Jewish, Catholic and Polish organizations and individuals.
"Stritch is honored to bring this powerful story of faith and courage to our stage as we celebrate the University's 75th Anniversary, honor this year's Franciscan value of Peacemaking and focus on the Catholic Church's Year of Faith. From its inception 75 years ago, Stritch has been dedicated to social justice and service of others. In IRENA'S VOW, this moving story reminds us of what one committed individual can accomplish."
(Irena Gut Opdyke) Julie Swenson
(Helen) Christen Lee
(Rokita's Secretary) Roxanne Dobbs
(Fanka Silberman) Olivia Ludwiczak
(Schultz) Austin Gomez
(Major Rugemer) Drew Brhel
(Lazar Hallar) Sean Jackson
(Sturmbannf?hrer Rokita) Shane Skinner
(Ida Hallar) Izetta Voss
(Roman) Hugh Blewett
Director: Susan Fete
Set Designer: Scott Wirtz-Olsen
Lighting Designer: Scott Wirtz-Olsen
Costume Designer: Robert Liebhauser
Stage Manager: Mallory Metoxen
Assistant Stage Managers: Shaina Summerville, Josh Wohlleben
Cardinal Stritch University, a fully accredited Catholic institution based in Milwaukee, provides transformative, value-centered education to more than 6,000 men and women of all faiths and ages in four colleges: Arts and Sciences, Education and Leadership, Business and Management, and the Ruth S. Coleman College of Nursing. The University offers associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, as well as certificate and other training programs. Founded in 1937 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, Stritch is the largest Franciscan institution of higher education in North America, with classroom sites across Wisconsin and Minnesota.