The Schmooze

Manhattan Project's Forgotten Humanist

Photo: Carol Rosegg

Growing up in Australia, Danny Ginges was both fascinated and fearful of the atomic bomb, and as an adult delved deeper into the story of the scientists who created the monster. The more he discovered of these men (and woman) and their top-secret Manhattan Project, the clearer it became that one name was lesser known than the others.

Ginges was working in advertising in Sydney in 2002 when he wrote a screenplay revolving around Leo Szilard, the Hungarian-American, Jewish physicist who conceived nuclear chain reaction. A decade later Ginges?s project has evolved into the big, polished, off-Broadway musical ?Atomic,? on through August 16 at Theatre Row?s Acorn Theatre.

?When I came across Szilard?s story it both engaged me and enraged me,? Ginges said. ?My anger that such an important figure should be forgotten by history is the fuel that?s driven me this far, and continues to drive me every single day. I feel very strongly that Szilard has a message for today. Fifty years after his death, it?s high time it was told.?

Oppenheimer, performed by Euan Morton, narrates the fleet-footed show that includes a surprising mix of gleeful dancing and rock music (by Philip Foxman), a daring contrast with the tragedies of the Holocaust and World War ll (cue ?Springtime for Hitler?). Book and lyrics are by Gregory Bonsignore and Ginges, who hopes ?Atomic? restarts a dialog. ?A lot of people don?t want to deal with this event, even after this much time. But it?s better not to have things locked up in a closet.?

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Manhattan Project's Forgotten Humanist

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