The Danuta Baduszkowa Music Theatre in Gdynia

Musical Theater Danuta Baduszkowa in Gdynia has been operating since May 18, 1958 and almost from the beginning of its existence it has been one of the most important cultural institutions in the region. During these years, many premieres were prepared at the theater: musicals, operettas, musical performances, ballet, cabaret, fairy tales, concerts and chamber performances.

When in 1957 she came to the Coast along with Wacław Śniady and Stanisław Ptak, probably few people imagined that it would be her name that would be permanently tied to the institution they founded. For a relatively long time the Voivodeship Company under the name of the Music Theatre was treated with reserve and disparaged, and almost nobody wrote about it.

Such passages as “a Fröbel kindergarten of an operetta” or “a costly event, at any rate” can hardly be taken as a serious and reliable description of this phenomenon, which, it should be added, was rather suspicious both to the Communist establishment (as it befitted not the working masses to take part in such entertainment) and the critics (who were fascinated at the time by original companies such as Bim-Bom, Co-To, and, slightly later, the Afanasyev Family Circus).

True, the first seasons were not that innovative – with classical operettas by Strauss, Offenbach, Friml, and Millcker, vaudevilles by Schubert, Kurpiński, Moniuszko, and “proven” musical comedies. And a few more recent Italian and German compositions. A breakthrough came at last in the 1960’s, when the Gdynia stage first featured the famous world musicals, “My Fair Lady” by AJ Lerner and F. Loewe, directed by S. Kwaskowski, as well as “Anything Goes” by C. Porter, “Promises – Promises” by B. Bacharach, and “Rinaldo in campo” by D. Modugno, directed by Baduszkowa herself.

An undoubted merit of Danuta Baduszkowa, who was also called “the inspirer of the development of Polish musical”, was the introduction of Polish performances to the stage, which began in 1967 with the premiere of “Panowie z ogłoszenia” (“Gentlemaen of the Ads”) by Jacek Korczakowski and Stefan Rembowski. At first they were adaptations of popular books, such as Sienkiewicz’s “With Fire and Sword”, Dołęga-Mostowicz’s “The Career of Nicodemus Dyzma”, Przymanowski’s “Four Tank-Men and a Dog”, and Hašek’s “The Good Soldier Švejk”. Eventually, and that was a novelty, original Polish musicals, written particularly for the purposes of the Gdynia stage, made it to the repertoire, such as J. Tomaszewski’s “Kaper Królewski”, R. Damrosz’s “Madagaskar”, and A. Bloch’s “Pan Zagłoba”.

The new repertoire required educating a new type of performer, hence probably the idea of the Vocal and Artistic Studio established by Baduszkowa, and active to this day. We may add, a particularly great idea. Thanks to the presence of students the supporting parts became much livelier, and also the Theatre acquired a greater significance by teaching recognised artistes, who, also today, make up the core of the casts of Polish musical theatres, to mention only Roma in Warsaw and Capitol in Wrocław.

Looking at this from the 1950’s perspective, we notice that the Music Theatre in Gdynia consistently manages to implement that “original idea of Baduszkowa’s” regarding the musical repertoire. There was no shortage of renowned figures, artistes, and performers, such as Ernest Bryll, Wojciech Młynarski, Jerzy Wasowski, Jeremi Przybora, Adam Hanuszkiewicz, Jerzy Stuhr, Leszek Możdżer, Grzegorz Turnau, Justyna Steczkowska, and Robert Janowski. Global hits were not lacking either – “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Les Miserables”, “West Side Story”, “Evita”, “Hair”, “Chicago”, “Fame”. Finally, there were plenty of important performances that rose to the rank of unique events, such as the famous “Kolęda-Nocka” by Bryll, “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “Nieszpory ludźmierskie”, a trans-opera “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and the outstanding shows of the ballet “Opentaniec” and the hip-hop “12 ławek”.

Currently the Music Theatre is undergoing construction work connected with the extension of the theatre building. The first stage of development is the creation of the New Stage with 300 seats in the auditorium. The building has a separate entrance, foyer, ticket booths, cloakrooms and dressing rooms. The New Stage will be handed over in April 2012. The last major stage of the extension is the enlargement of the Large Stage audience. The audience will receive 377 more seats, which will give a total of 1064 seats. The foyer will be enlarged with a new storey and additional rooms. The extended auditorium. will have a new roof over it. The work on the extension of the Theatre is due to end in 2013.




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