Soldier of Orange (musical)
Soldier of Orange (Dutch: Soldaat van Oranje) is a Dutch musical production, based on the true story of resistance hero Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema. In the 1970s, he wrote his experiences during World War II down in a book and director Paul Verhoeven made it into a feature film, starring actor Rutger Hauer.
The musical premiered on October 30, 2010 in a theatre that was purpose-build for the production: the TheaterHangaar on the former air base Valkenburg in Katwijk (in an old hangar). Queen Beatrix attended the premiere together with Karin Hazelhoff Roelfzema who had come over from Hawai'i for the occasion.
Soldier of Orange is produced by Robin de Levita and NEW Productions, which is a collaboration between investment company Amerborgh Nederland and Volterra, parent company of Montecatini Talent Agency.
Student Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema and his friends are carefree, until the Germans invade Holland in 1940. The war changes everything. They can no longer take friendship and love for granted. Everybody has to make choices. Fight for the country and for freedom? Focus on studying and deny what’s going on? Or join the enemy?
The book of Hazelhoff Roelfzema, with the title Cave of the Rattlesnake (Dutch: Het hol van de ratelslang), was published in 1970. It reappeared a year later under the title Soldier of Orange. Paul Verhoeven created a film version in 1977. Rutger Hauer played the character Erik Lanshoff, based on the resistance hero.
Soldier of Orange – The Musical brings the true story to the theatre. When World War II starts, Erik decides to go to England. He smuggles transmitting equipment to Holland and, as a pilot, is involved in bombing Germany. He becomes adjutant for queen Wilhelmina and receives de Militaire Willems-Orde, the highest royal honour in the Netherlands, for his contribution to the resistance movement.
Producer Fred Boot obtained the rights to turn the story into a musical in 2005, after meeting Hazelhoff Roelfzema the year before.
Scriptwriter Edwin de Vries wrote the musical script. American duo Tom Harriman and Pamela Philips Oland was responsible for composition and lyrics. Dutch actor and composer Frans van Deursen translated the lyrics from English into Dutch. In 2008, Boot asked theatre producer Robin de Levita to join him. Director Theu Boermans joined the team in 2009.
The show takes place in a former flight hangar, that is converted into a theatre. The location of the so called TheaterHangaar is former military airport Valkenburg between Wassenaar, Katwijk en Leiden, a suitable, historical place. A foyer with a bar and restaurant is placed in front of the hangar.
Producer Robin de Levita invented a new theatrical performance solution for Soldier of Orange – The Musical: a rotating auditorium in the center of a venue with 1100 seats. He named it SceneAround. The auditorium is placed on a turntable. The audience rotates from scenery to scenery, accompanied by 180 degree projections on panel screens around the auditorium. Both the auditorium and the screens are motorized and automated. The set is built around the auditorium. Almost every scenery has its own set. There is even a ‘sea’ and the runway of the airport is also part of the set.
Queen Wilhelmina returned to Holland with a Dakota. The Dakota C-47 was made available for the musical by a Dutch museum and was taken to Valkenburg in August 2010. Shortly after midnight, the plane got stuck in an overpass. It was too damaged to have it repaired on time for the premiere. The Dakota PH-ALR ‘Reiger’ from 1939 that’s being used in the production now, was delivered on September 23, 2010.