North Central College students stage Holocaust-themed play “Way to Heaven” May 9-12

May 01, 2013

North Central College students will perform on May 9-12 “Way to Heaven,” a play inspired by actual events that occurred during the Holocaust.

Four performances will be presented at 7:30 p.m. May 9-11 and at 2 p.m. May 12 in North Central College’s Madden Theatre at the Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave. Tickets are $10/adults and $8/students and senior citizens; call the North Central College Box Office at 630-637-SHOW (7469) or visit

Written by contemporary Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga, “Way to Heaven” takes place in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II. To Red Cross inspectors and other outsiders, the Nazis used propaganda to present the concentration camp as a model Jewish settlement, though in reality more than 30,000 died there of starvation and other atrocities.

Directed by Kelly Howe, North Central College assistant professor of theatre, this production uses the English translation by David Johnston. “In this production, the students and I have wrestled with a variety of questions,” says Howe. “We wanted to explore the situation Mayorga depicts in its complexity. It's easy to glibly dismiss the Red Cross representatives as weak for not reporting wrongdoing, but how many times do we turn our eyes away from horrors that we know are there, merely because to speak the truth would be perceived as inconvenient to us?”

In this play the role of theatre is also considered. “Theatre, like many methods of making meaning, is not inherently a positive thing,” says Howe. “Instead, it’s a value neutral tool that can be used for the good, the ill and the downright murderous. That’s important for all of us who make art to remember, so that we use our tools with mindfulness of their potential power and consequences.”

The cast for “Way to Heaven” features (role, actor, town, year, major):

Red Cross Representative: Erik Burke of Monroe, Mich., a sophomore majoring in musical theatre and theatre
Commandant: Evan Michalic of St. Charles, a junior majoring in theatre
Gershom Gottfried: Warren Dailey of Minooka, a junior majoring in economics, finance and theatre
Young Couple on Bench: Savanna Richardson of Terre Haute, Ind., a junior majoring in theatre, and
Grant Schumacher of Indianapolis, a junior majoring in marketing and theatre
Second Woman on Bench: Rosa Reinemann of Madison, Wis., a junior majoring in musical theatre
Girl: Mikayla Detwiler, a young actor from Naperville
Boys: Hunter Lindner of Sandwich, a junior majoring in English; William Chengary of Darien, a freshman majoring in theatre; Sean Mohler of Machesney Park, a freshman majoring in musical theatre; Jack Ryan of Oswego, a freshman majoring in mathematics; and Derek Bacon of Osceola, Ind., a junior majoring in musical theatre

North Central College offers majors in theatre or musical theatre and a minor in dance. A full range of acting and dance classes is available, as well as opportunities to direct a full-length production. Students of all majors can participate in musical and nonmusical performances, actor showcases and one-act plays and performances in the College’s four theatre venues. Full-time professors and active professionals who are artist-teachers serve as faculty. 

Navistar is underwriting sponsor of North Central College’s 2012-2013 Fine and Performing Arts Season. The season is partially supported by USG Corporation and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and National Endowment of the Arts.