New musical ‘Moses Man’ wraps up IU summer theater season with three performances

Post by IU Communications colleagues Karen Land and Milana Katic:

Indiana Festival Theatre ends its 2014 season with the rare opportunity to see a new musical still in evolution.

The musical also is unusual because its subject isn’t typical summer fare. “Moses Man” recounts a family’s harrowing but triumphant escape from Nazi-era Vienna.

“Moses Man” will be publicly performed only three times: at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22 and 23, and at 2 p.m. Aug. 24 in Indiana University’s Wells-Metz Theatre.

Moses Man: Kalman Haber identity card

The musical is based on a true story, and for writer Deborah Haber, it’s a personal one. “Moses Man” is based on the life of her late father, Kalman Haber.

In the production, fictional characters retrace her family’s nine-year journey from Austria to Italy to Switzerland to Cyprus to Africa and then finally to the United States.

“The story is one of making it through the obstacles that were in their way,” Haber said. “It’s upbeat. At the end you get a really good feeling. There are definitely moments of the horror of the circumstances, but what we want people to take away from this is to stand up for what’s right, and have the courage to do so.”

Music might seem a surprising way to treat the serious subject of the Holocaust. However, Haber said that at the heart of it, the story is about the human condition and human emotions. “Music absolutely touches upon those emotions.”

Haber and composer Casey Filiaci previously worked together to create the new musical “Sweet House,” which is based on the familiar fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. The writing team originally came to IU in Spring 2014 as the Gerald and Dorit Paul Artists in Residence in the Borns Jewish Studies Program.

“It’s been a fantastic opportunity,” Haber said. “Everybody here at IU has been fantastic, and we can’t say that enough.”

Deborah Haber

Deborah Haber wrote the musical “Moses Man” based on the story of her father’s escape from Austria.

In April, “Moses Man” was first presented at IU in a workshop performance. The August incarnation remains a workshop production without costumes or a full set, but Haber said the show has changed substantially, with completely new songs.

“We’re here not just to put on a show but to actually develop the show,” she said.

Together Haber and Filiaci are working to solidify the script and the score, so they can take the show to the next level: a full production.

Until then, audiences can enjoy the journey of “Moses Man.”

“Moses Man” is directed by George Pinney, with Ray Fellman serving as the music director. The cast includes Equity actor Mark Goetzinger; IU graduate Heather Hertling Narducci; 13-year-old Noah Moore; and IU students Nathan Robbins, Andrew Minkin, Christian Fary, David Gordon-Johnson, Nick Pappas, Joey Birchler, Ethan Gresham, Kaitlyn Mayse, Caitlin Diekhoff, Caroline Huerta, Brianna Milan and Kelsey Shaw.

Tickets for “Moses Man” are available online, by phone at 812-855-1103, at the IU Auditorium box office from 10 a. m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or at the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center box office one hour before the show. Seats are $15, or $10 for students with ID.

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