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SPUK IN DER VILLA STERN (GHOST IN THE VILLA STERN)

Music and Lyrics by Friedrich Hollaender. New dialogues by David Gieselmann
WORLD PREMIERE /?COMMISSIONED WORK

By David Gieselmann, freely adapted from the revue by Friedrich Hollaender. In German. Recommended for ages: 11 and over

The Stern family, with petty bourgeois relatives and nouveau riche in-laws, holds a costume ball at its villa. Among the illustrious guests a «genuine» burglar also arrives – who is mistaken for a good friend in an excellent mask – and is promptly invited by the host to crack open the safe …

In his wickedly funny «revuette» the legendary cabaret artist and composer Friedrich Hollaender («Falling in Love Again») pokes fun at the credulous middle classes who willingly surrender to a criminal and thus seal their own downfall. Given its world premiere in 1931in the Tingel-Tangel Theatre in the basement of Berlin’s Theater des Westens, «Ghost in the Villa Stern» made blatant inferences to the rise of National Socialism in Germany – which is the real ghost at large in the story. Hollaender composed some of his best and sharpest songs for «Ghost in the Villa Stern» including «The Cleptomaniac», «Everything’s the Fault of the Jews» – a powerful satire on anti-Semitism– and «Münchhausen», a song about the power of lies that seems more topical than ever in the age of supposed «fake news». The day after the world premiere the Berliner Volks-Zeitung commented in its review: «Never was there a more fertile time for the satire and parodies of cabaret.  And never was there a more dangerous time for its practitioners. What could be made fun of yesterday without any risk might be dangerous tomorrow.» And indeed Friedrich Hollaender had to leave Germany in 1933 because of his Jewish background.

His «Ghost in the Villa Stern», which has never been seen on stage again since the original production and only survives in parts, will be resurrected in Basel  – with a new  version of the book written by the author David Gieselmann who is renowned for his critical and entertaining comedies. Staged by director Christian Brey, who will push the piece to the limits of cabaret, this high tempo tour de force features stars of the Swiss theatre appearing in over a dozen roles with opera singer Noëmi Nadelmann, chansonnier Michael von der Heide and audience favourite and Theater Basel ensemble member Karl-Heinz Brandt!

Preisstufe VI (von 30.– bis 102.–)

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