Soldier of Orange

Soldaat van Oranje, de musical
Opening night: October 30th, 2010
Seen: March 4th, 2011, TheaterHangaar, Valkenburg

Matteo van der Grijn

The musical is based on the book by Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, who wrote about his life during WWII. Often called a hero, Roelfzema hated the word. At the start of the war, no one knew where it would lead to, what could happen, how it would affect people. Matteo van der Grijn, who plays Erik in the musical said: “It’s all about making choices. I have never been in a situation where I had to make such important decisions, thank goodness – so I can’t say which decision I would have made.”
The students, featured in the musical, all make different choices. Several of them feel they have to do something NOW and get involved with the resistance, one of them focuses on getting his degree and goes on studying as if there was no war. Others end up on ‘the wrong side’ and collaborate with the German invaders. To me that’s the most important message of the musical. You can’t judge people if you haven’t been in the same situation. And even then it’s hard to judge as no human is alike and we all have different priorities, fears, future goals, family circumstances, etc.

The theatre – build in a hangar at former Militairy Airport Valkenburg – is one of a kind. The different sets are build in a circle and can be closed by -floor to ceiling- sliding doors/walls. In the middle is a revolving platform with 1103 comfortable chairs. By moving the platform the audience is taken to the next scene and that gives it a special dimension. No more set changes, the doors close – and are used as video wall where pictures and movies are projected, as addition to the storyline – the platform moves and the doors open again, ready for the next scene.


The musical ticket was a present from my mom and dad (TY!!) and, as they both experienced the war, I was particularly curious to know what they thought of the show. I could hear them take a sharp breath in when the German flags were shown and people made the Hitler salute by lifting their straightened right arm up in the air. My mom told me: “I felt shivers down my spine and was suddenly thrown back in time. I could feel the fear when I heard the sound of marching soldiers, their boots stamping on the streets… very emotional.”
The sniffing and use of handkerchiefs showed many more people were touched by what they saw.
For me it was the combination of strong lyrics, great music, the emotion of the scenes and the impact the war had on my parents’ life that made me tear up several times. After the show I was torn between highs and lows. I felt drained, numb, and at the same time overpowered by what I saw, excited about some of the technical things and grateful for my life in freedom – the mix of feelings stayed with me for a few days.

This review is already far too long, but I want to add that I was blown away by the technical stuff. The sea with rolling waves, the speed of the motorbike driving around the platform, the Dakota and part of the cast at the runway – which was shown by opening the outside doors of the hangar, where you could feel the cold – and the last scene when Matteo/Erik at the end of a powerful song puts his leather jacket on, starts his motorbike and drives off of the stage, onto the runway, makes a sharp turn right and disappears – stunning!
I am so happy that I got a chance to see this musical and I really hope to see it again. There’s so much happening on stage which catches your attention, I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of details because of that.
To be continued… I hope!

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