ArtEventsThe SouthSider

Gitana Productions premieres play about German abolitionists

GRAND CENTER – A new historical play premiered over the weekend at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand Boulevard. 

“An Amazing Story: German Abolitionists in Missouri,” an original play about the role of German immigrants in the fight to end slavery, opened on Thursday night. Produced by Gitana Productions, the play touches on the work of real historical figures such as Friedrich Munch, Judge Arnold Krekel and August Boernstein. 

German immigrants who settled in St. Louis in the mid-1800s tended to be vocal about their advocacy for the end of slavery, Many pledged their allegiance to the Union during the Civil War and became Union soldiers, though, of course, “some immigrants set aside their values in order to survive and be accepted during the period before and after [the war],” as Cecilia Nadal wrote about the play on Gitana Productions’ website. 

Nadal, founder of Gitana Productions, wrote the new play. Since 1996, Nadal has used her production company to offer St. Louis “a global vision of music, dance and drama.” She was honored this year by the Missouri Arts Council for her work here for the arts.

The play featured area actors and ran for five performances, Thursday through Sunday. It was such a hit that, Nadal said, the Sunday 3 p.m. show had only standing room available. After each of the performances there were talk-backs with the cast, historians and Nadal herself. 

Sydney Norton, who in 2016 curated an exhibit about German abolitionists through St. Louis University’s Center for Global Citizenship, urged others in a Facebook post to see the play. 

“It is a gripping story with outstanding actors and singers,” she wrote. 

The play will appear again on July 12th at 7PM at the Center for Divine Love, which was originally founded by German Free Thinkers in the late 1800s, on Wyoming Street. For info on that production, contact the center at

For more information about Gitana Productions and Cecilia Nadal, and to learn more about future productions, visit

Samantha Auch

Sam Auch graduated from Knox College, where she studied Theater and Gender Studies. Outside her work with The Northsider, she works as an actor, playwright, and artist. You can found out more about her at her website

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