A 28-year-old Broadway actress takes on an unexpected new project


One would be forgiven, upon hearing the words “Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” and “musical,” for cringing—or at least cocking an eyebrow.

But Haley Swindal, the non-Jewish granddaughter of former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, is on a quest to bring Warsaw: A Musical Drama to Broadway audiences. The 28-year-old Broadway actress first encountered the show, written by William Wade with lyrics by John Atkins, when she was cast in it. The show had been performed in abbreviated form as a concert in synagogues, churches, and theaters, and on this past Tuesday, at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater as an industry concert Swindal hoped would showcase “how special this piece is and how special the story is of these heroes” to the New York theater community.

According to press materials, the play “tells the story of Roman, a passionate young Jewish man trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto and separated from his gentile fiancée, Ana. The couple struggle to reunite against overwhelming odds as Roman leads a group of young resistance fighters into an impossible battle to vindicate their community, their families, and their lives. Our cast pays homage to these heroes who took a courageous stand in the true spirit of tikkun olam (“repairing the world”).”

Swindal—who played Grace Farrell in Annie and has appeared on Broadway and on tour with Jekyll & Hyde and Jesus Christ Superstar—plays the part of Helena, one of the resistance fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, in addition to formally producing the reading. “It’s really really an honor to get to play these heroes, and to be able to portray these characters,” she told me during the wine and cheese reception that followed the reading.

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