It was noted by World War 2 scholars in a little known chapter of European history, that at least 150,000 people, were rounded up by the Nazi SS, and funneled through a city known as Terezin, Czechoslovakia. This 18th century fortress town, named for Czech Queen Teresa, was originally built to house 7,000 inhabitants. In 1944, at times Theresienstadt's (German translation) population swelled above 50,000. This transit camp became part of Adolf Hitler's "Final Solution". The Nazi SS used this concentration area as the halfway point in the process of the extermination of Europe's so called "undesirable" elements. These included, Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, political activists, and dissident Catholic Priests.
Despite the lack of sufficient food, deadly diseases from unsanitary conditions and overcrowding; some people awaiting deportation to their final "solution", were encouraged to continue a "normal" life. Social activities were allowed by the Nazi commanders. "Residents" performed dances, concerts, chorales, plays and musical cabaret for their own entertainment, academic study and unfortunately, Nazi propaganda.
The idea for a dramatic musical was ignited by a chance encounter at a chamber music concert, between soft spoken, petite, octogenarian, Dr. Margrit Rustow and Eliot Bailen. Dr. Rustow was very upset that “Holocaust Deniers” were telling people, particularly young people, the lie: "The Nazi genocide of Jews never happened."
The teenage, Margrit Rustow along with her sister, survived the Terezin ghetto and Ravensbruck slave labor camps in 1944-45 and personally witnessed the horror.
Eliot turned to Steven Fialkoff, and asked if he could come up with a story that would engage young and old theatre goers, include the dramatic use of songs and not make the audience wish they had never come to see a show with this subject matter.
"Why not?" Fialkoff answered. " ...we will have to find the path that separates this from entertainment but not make it a textbook entry or school lecture... "
A few weeks later, after much research, The Tiny Mustache was born. It is a very touching, dramatized backstage story that takes place just prior to the performance of an original Czech children's opera called "Brundibar". ("Brundibar" was performed 55 times in Terezin.) Our story is mostly about a very special day in June of 1944. We felt that this setting would be more appropriate to the message and the medium.
The Tiny Mustache is a nine actor, two act play with 14+ songs.
(*Since we are parents, we always like to know if our child could watch something like this. You can make that decision as the subject matter deals with teenage relationships, loss, death, very minor violence and one incident of implied sexual assault. Feel free to contact us for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org).
"Your mission is a noble one, your talents we admire, the show tonight will reach the heights to which we all aspire..." (Lyrics from the song "Tonight you are the stars" Music & Lyrics by Eliot Bailen from "The Tiny Mustache")
Video clips from Spring 2014 interview
Dr. Rustow died Dec. 19, 2014
Eliot Bailen’s active career as a composer and cellist covers a broad span of activity. Recent commissions include an Octet (“For Ellen”) for 3 winds and strings premiered by the Sherman Chamber Ensemble in August, 2014; a ‘Double Concerto for Flute and Cello’ commissioned by the Johns Hopkins Symphony Orchestra and premiered in October 2012 with Mr. Bailen and his wife, flutist, Susan Rotholz as soloists; “Perhaps a Butterfly” a chamber work for Soprano, child soprano, flute and string trio commissioned by Cantor Rebecca Garfein at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York where it was premiered in 2011,
I am the proud winner of two Emmy awards, but after thirty years of editing other people's stories, films, documentaries, TV shows and commercials; it was time for something different.
Creating the original story and the "Book" for "The Tiny Mustache" was a refreshing change. I could not have done this without the support of my family. My wife, Dr. Marcia Grossman, my daughters, my brother Jay and my Mom, Maxine Fialkoff. I also want to acknowledge my Aunt Esther, the family historian, who, in 2013, sat me down and shared our own family's Holocaust story. I also want to acknowlege the wizard who put a wonderful spell on the children who attended James Madison High school in Brooklyn and Binghamton University. IMHO, we seem to have done a lot of good "stuff" for our society. "Expelliarmus !"
"When I heard my baby cry at the moment of her birth, suddenly I knew, my purpose here on Earth..." Katz, the director. (Lyrics from the song "The Lost Smile" Music by Eliot Bailen. Lyrics by Steven Fialkoff, Additional lyrics by Eliot Bailen from "The Tiny Mustache" a new original musical drama.)
“Perhaps a Butterfly” was recently selected along with another work forpublishing by Transcontinental Music. Mr. Bailen’s Saratoga Sextet for strings,commissioned by Saratoga Chamber Players, premiered recently to criticalacclaim at Skidmore College as part of Saratoga Artsfest. Mr. Bailen has also gained national attention as a writerand producer of children's music. Winner of the 1990 Parent's Choice Gold Medaland winner of numerous ASCAP Popular Awards, Mr. Bailen was a featured guestartist on Nickelodeon's "Eureeka's Castle" airing from 1993 through 1997. Mr. Bailen received over twenty-nine commissions for his "Song to Symphony" project, anextended school residency program that presents children's original musicals inan orchestral setting; the project was the subject of a NY Times featurearticle (Sept. 2006). The Song to Symphony project was recently awarded aspecial Alumni Grant from the Yale School of Music.
Strings Magazine writes, "At Merkin Hall (NYC) ‘cellist Eliot Bailen displayed a warm focused tone, concentrated expressiveness andadmirable technical command always at the service of the music” (July, ’99).Eliot Bailen is principal cello of the New York Chamber Ensemble, New JerseyFestival Orchestra, Orchestra New England, New York Bach Artists, TeatroGrattacielo and the New Choral Society. Founder and Artistic Director of theSherman Chamber Ensemble whose performances the New York Times has described as“the Platonic ideal of a chamber music concert.” (July, 2005), Mr. Bailen alsoperforms regularly with the Saratoga Chamber Players, 'Modern Works,' BronxArts Ensemble, the Cape May Music Festival and the Sebago-Long Lake Chamber Music Festival. He is also Founder and Artistic director of Chamber Music atRodeph Sholom in New York. He is assistant-principal cello of the StamfordSymphony and appears frequently such orchestras as the Orchestra of St. Luke's,New York City Opera and Ballet, American Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, MusicaSacra and the Oratorio Society of New York. He has recorded for Nonesuch, KochInternational, Deutche Grammophon, Delos, New World, Beanstalk, BMG and FlyingDutchman Records and has been heard as solo cello in numerous Broadway shows.
Mr. Bailen received his Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) from Yale University andis on the cello and chamber music faculty at Columbia University and TeachersCollege. Graduating in 1977 with High Honors in Music andFrench Literature from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Mr. Bailen also holds an M.B.A. in Finance from New York University where he was awarded thecoveted Slater Prize for Entrepreneurship. In 2002, he was awarded the Norman Vincent Peale Arts Award for Positive Thinking. Susan and Eliot live in NewYork City with their twin sons David and Daniel and their daughter Julia.