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The Warsaw Voice » Stage & Screen » September 29, 2014
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Prewar Poland in New Musicals
September 29, 2014   
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Two musicals based on novels by popular prewar Polish writer Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowicz open in October in Warsaw and Cracow, both adapted for the stage by theater director Wojciech Kościelniak.

Kościelniak has previously turned several Polish literary masterpieces into musicals, including The Doll by Bolesław Prus, Operetta by Witold Gombrowicz, and The Peasants and The Promised Land by Władysław Reymont, a winner of the Nobel Prize for literature.

Kościelniak’s latest offerings are The Career of Nicodemus Dyzma, which is Dołęga-Mostowicz’s most famous novel, and a less well-known book by the writer entitled Bracia Dalcz i S-ka (Dalcz Brothers and co.) The first of the two shows opens Oct. 3 at Warsaw’s Syrena Theater, and the second at the Juliusz Słowacki Theater in Cracow Oct. 11.

The Career of Nicodemus Dyzma is a bold satire of corrupt and cynical politicians in Poland in the years between the two world wars. Immensely popular in Poland, the novel follows the fortunes of an unemployed post office clerk from the provinces, a simple, ignorant man who by a twist of luck manages to carve out a stunning political career.

The stage adaptation at the Syrena Theater turns the story into a lively show peppered with songs penned by Piotr Dziubek and Rafał Dziwisz.

The show has been choreographed by Jarosław Staniek and the distinctive flavor of 1920s and ‘30s Poland has been recreated by set designer Damian Styrna and costume designer Bożena Ślaga. Przemysław Bluszcz plays Dyzma as he unscrupulously works his way up the social ladder.

Following up on the success of Kościelniak’s adaptation of The Promised Land, the Juliusz Słowacki Theater in Cracow has decided to work with the director again on Dołęga-Mostowicz’s Bracia Dalcz i S-ka. This fascinating novel takes readers back to prewar Poland where two brothers are locked in a power struggle, each determined to take over the family business. Amid much scheming and plotting, the brothers are nonplussed to see the firm taken over by Paweł Dalcz, the black sheep of the family. At the end of the novel, Dalcz defeats a group of British financiers and an American billionaire and becomes the richest man in the world. The story is full of deceit and intrigue that is as surprising to the characters as it is to audiences. Kościelniak highlights the love theme in the story, combining it with an air of mystery and a cleverly constructed plot with numerous twists. Like the novel, the new musical version is set in the 1930s, boasting a riot of vintage costumes, music and choreography. Making lavish use of animated displays and inventive sets, the story takes viewers from Poland to London, New York and Switzerland.

The team behind the show includes some of those involved in the Warsaw production, including lyricist Dziwisz, composer Dziubek, choreographer Staniek and set designer Styrna. Costumes for the Cracow production have been designed by Katarzyna Paciorek. The role of Dalcz is played by Radosław Krzyżowski, who is accompanied by popular Cracow-based actors such as Agnieszka Judycka and Tomasz Wysocki.

Marzena Robinson
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