THE PILOTS is a musical inspired by historical events of the 1930s and 1940s–primarily the Battle of Britain. It is also a deeply emotional tale about love, brutally interrupted by the outbreak of World War 2. The two main characters are Jan, a young Polish pilot, and Nina, a cabaret actress and singer in the pre-war Warsaw.
Casting for the show took place in October and November 2016 with nearly 600 people applying. Approximately 70 actors, vocalists and dancers have qualified and appear in the show. They include artists who have performed in prior ROMA Musical Theatre shows, but for some it will be a début on our stage.
Wojciech Kępczyński – book and direction
“After many premières of international hits, such as The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Les Misérables, and, recently, Mamma Mia!, the time has come for us to stage a Polish musical. I have been thinking about such a project for a long time, especially since this subject is close to my heart for family reasons—two of my Grandmother’s brothers fought in the Battle of Britain. The Pilots is not a documentary. It’s a fantasy. A whirlwind story about difficult choices made by heroes in the face of dramatic events.”
Michał Wojnarowski, lyrics
“We tell this tale using a modern language. Despite the seriousness of the subject, we still go – in some cases – for humour, jokes or puns. And we do want to avoid stereotypes. Not only do the lyrics develop the plot and comment on the events, but they also tell us something about the characters.”
Jakub Lubowicz, composer:
“The music of The Pilots is the result of many years of experience and music experiments by my brother–who co-wrote the music–and myself. Since the beginning of our creative journey and professional activity, we have been immersed in different music genres. The period in which The Pilots is set is precisely defined; however, the music—despite many stylistic references to that period—is be elegantly “disguised” in a modern suit. There are broad songs based on long phrases (which is typical of a musical), but also some modern rhythms and sounds as well. A full-size orchestra is involved in the performance.”’
Sebastian Gonciarz, assistant director, areal battles screenplay:
“It’s an honour for me to have worked on a performance that reminds us of the fates of the Polish pilots during the Second World War. Their history tends to be unappreciated by the Poles, while for the Brits—especially from their today’s perspective—it seems a bit embarrassing.”
Agnieszka Brańska, choreographer:
“Our story is also a very personal topic for me, because my mother’s father was a military pilot and he fought in the Battle of Britain. Furthermore, he didn’t come back to Poland at all after the war, but settled in Preston where he worked at a plane factory. And he died there. A sentimental journey to the dancing styles of the 1940s—reshaped and updated, of course—was certainly a huge professional challenge.”
Jeremi Brodnicki, set designer:
“We wanted to achieve an effect of seamlessly merging parts of the actual set on the stage with the video projections on the screens. We remained true to the period’s landscape, but we also wanted to give everything a certain homogeneous, characteristic, painterly style–remembering that we were not making a documentary about that period, but a musical.”
Kamil Pohl, digital set design and animation DIRECTOR(Platige Image):
“What’s important is that we did not simply animate the digital set. We designed and created entire worlds, make interactive animations, so that videos and stage components complemented each other, and not contradict our story.”