In 1944, Ruth Gruber, special assistant to the United States' Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, was assigned a breath-taking duty — to escort nearly 1000 holocaust survivors from Italy to Oswego, New York. Her before and after experiences became the book "Haven" and now, a musical by William Goldstein ("Fame," "The Miracle Worker") and Tony Award winning lyricist Joe Darion (Man of La Mancha). Haven makes its world premiere Oct. 25-Nov. 20 at Los Angeles' University of Judaism.
The survivors of Haven had come from all over Europe and had suffered variously during World War II. Some had been in concentration camps, while others had hidden from the Nazis and still others openly fought the Germans. Coming to America meant life for the refugees, but they and Gruber found that the United States could hate too. Sometimes it was anti-semitism that threatened the survivors and sometimes it was Washington's time-consuming red-tape and politics. "Haven" was recently a CBS mini-series starring Natasha Richardson, Anne Bancroft and Martin Landau.
Haven features music by film composer Goldstein, an Emmy nominee for his "Fame" score, and lyrics by Darion with a book by Jerome Coopersmith. Besides Man of La Mancha, Darion also wrote the lyrics to Shinbone Alley and Illya Darling. A TV writer whose credits include "Hawaii 5-0" and "The Streets of San Francisco," Coopersmith was Tony nominated for the Broadway musical Baker Street.
Tickets are $49.50-$55. The Gindi Auditorium at the University of Judaism is located at 15600 Mulholland Drive at the 405 Freeway. For reservations, call (310) 476-9777 ext. 201.
— By Christine Ehren