Antwerp’s young talent is looking forward to the musical premiere of ‘Magdalena’: “As a tribute to the victims, we want to do this well” (Antwerp)

Antwerp’s young talent is looking forward to the musical premiere of ‘Magdalena’: “As a tribute to the victims, we want to do this well” (Antwerp)
Antwerp’s young talent is looking forward to the musical premiere of ‘Magdalena’: “As a tribute to the victims, we want to do this well” (Antwerp)
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Magdalena tells the true, harrowing story of more than 30,000 Irish women and girls who had to do forced labor in convents. The sisters imposed a reign of terror and created terrible working conditions. The last monastery only closed its doors in 1996 and in 2014 a cesspool with hundreds of baby corpses was discovered. All born in the monasteries, hidden from the outside world. In 2018, The Singing Factory took this history as a starting point for the musical Magdalena. After its success, they are bringing the musical back to the Blikfabriek in Hoboken.

As usual, The Singing Factory works with a group of young people in the lead role. Musical actors Ann Van den Broeck and Ivan Pecnik complete the cast with their roles as Sister Margaret and Father Walsh. But the stage will mainly feature young talent, including three young people from Antwerp: Lotte (17), Mauro (18) and Mona (18). Lotte Villays plays the role of Rose, who is sent to the convent by her mother and stepfather because she has an unwanted pregnancy. “Rose doesn’t have an easy time, but always tries to stay positive and takes care of the other girls as a mother figure. I have a lot of admiration for her and hope that I can do some justice to my character,” says Lotte.

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Lotte Villays (right) plays the role of Rose. — © Sarah Van den Elsken

Mauro Janssens (18) plays the role of Aedan, who cherishes a relationship with Emma, ​​who is sent to the monastery precisely because of that forbidden love. “He is a very adventurous boy who will do everything he can to free Emma, ​​a great character to play.” Eighteen-year-old Mona Theuwissen plays the role of Sarah. She is sent away together with her younger sister because her father no longer sees any other way due to poverty.

True story

Although the three actors were not yet born when the events in Ireland took place, they have little difficulty in empathizing with the story. “We are young and have not experienced it ourselves, but we do have an idea of ​​what it was like. We have thoroughly familiarized ourselves with videos and explanations so that we know what we are conveying to the audience,” says Mauro. For him it is the first time that he has based a musical on existing facts. “That makes it a little easier to empathize, but it is actually very special to play.”

All characters featured in the musical are named after one of the victims who was actually in the monastery. The fact that the age also matches makes it very close for the female cast. “It is intense to realize that girls our age really experienced this and that less than fifty years ago. It is a tough story to tell, but because it is also a kind of tribute to the victims, we want to do it as well as possible,” Lotte and Mona add.

International dreams

The three are young and still have a whole career ahead of them, but all three have already taken many steps within the musical world. Mona has been with The Singing Factory since the age of six. “I really enjoy singing and dancing, I have always done auditions and I have been with the production for ten years now. Music and large pieces with an ensemble can really move me. In addition, it is fantastic to feel that tension between yourself and the audience every performance,” says the eighteen-year-old. Although she is still searching for her future, she is confident to continue in that career.

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The cast will rehearse for a few more weeks in 't Oud Kapelleke in Berchem.

The cast will rehearse for a few more weeks in ‘t Oud Kapelleke in Berchem. — © Sarah Van den Elsken

For Mauro it all started at Ketnet Musical in 2019, but afterwards he also played in productions of The Singing Factory, such as Kamp Delta. His big dream is to one day stand in the middle of moving stands, à la spectacle musicals from Studio 100. It is no coincidence that he is following in the footsteps of his great role model, Jelle Cleymans. “In terms of voice, I am often compared to him and I think that is a nice compliment. Although I do want people to recognize that part of Mauro in it.”

Lotte also entered the world at an early age. When she was eight years old, she performed her first musical as the youngest of the Von Trap family in “The Sound of Music”. And afterwards she also got many great opportunities. “I think it’s great that I can combine my passions on stage. When audience members come and tell us what they thought, that really completes it. My ultimate dream is to one day play in London, but that’s for later. First of all, with this fantastic group, Magdalena is well presented.”

With the final weeks approaching the premiere, the trio is looking forward to playing in front of an audience. “The general week, in which everything comes together and we are on stage with the entire cast, is always special. I enjoy that utmost focus so that everything can come loose during the final applause,” says Mona. Mauro and Lotte agree: “It may be difficult to enjoy during the premiere, but once we notice that it is well received, the enjoyment can begin.”

‘Magdalena can be seen from April 19 in the Blikfabriek in Hoboken. Tickets and information via The Singing Factory website.

Mona Theuwissen (on the right in the trio) plays the character Sarah.

Mona Theuwissen (on the right in the trio) plays the character Sarah. — © Sarah Van den Elsken

Lotte, Mauro and Mona are looking forward to the premiere on April 20.

Lotte, Mauro and Mona are looking forward to the premiere on April 20. — © Sarah Van den Elsken

Tags: Antwerps young talent musical premiere Magdalena tribute victims Antwerp

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