“We still get to decide what is or is not important.”
Nazi soldiers occupy the streets of Denmark. Jewish families are disappearing overnight. In parallel stories, young Annemarie Johansen tries to protect her friend, Ellen, while (in flashbacks) Annemarie’s older sister, Lise, works for the Danish resistance.
Lois Lowry’s Newbery-winner gets a beautiful new adaptation by Andrew Harmon. He captures the novel’s best conversations while taking just enough artistic liberties to propel the plot. Despite the perilous setting, the Johansens’ lives are marked by faith, love and humor.
Abigail Gaydos plays Lise with resolute grace. Her scenes at home make the whole family more cohesive, and she has adorable romantic chemistry with Peter, played by Brian Tucker. The audience could barely breathe during Lise’s tense showdown with the Nazis.
As Annemarie, Sophia Moon is asked to carry a terrifying number of scenes, but she’s up to the task. She delivers her lines clearly and sincerely, guiding us through Annemarie’s rapid maturity. Best of all, she feels like a real kid, which makes her final heroic act all the more inspiring.
The play’s title refers to Psalm 147:4, which Ellen’s dad reads aloud. While not an evangelistic story, religion guides the entire Johansen family. They believe in redemption and commit to decency, even in the face of absolute evil. Annemarie puts it best: “We should be friendly, just in case.”
After the tense end to Act 1, Dan Robbins brings much-needed levity as hopeless bachelor Uncle Henrik. He coaxes the best out of Annemarie in their conversations together.
There’s a large, empty space between the front row and the stage, so sit as close as possible.
“Number the Stars” depicts Nazi violence, alcohol consumption and young love in a family-friendly manner. Recommended for ages 10 and up.
First United Methodist Church
420 N Nevada Ave
Playing October 27 – November 5, 2017
Admission: $15 general, $5 students
Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes