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The Importance of Being Otto

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When Hendersonville businessman Tom Hicks first began to notice how his partner enjoyed looking out the windows of hotels on their many business trips together, he was curious about this obsession.

One day, his partner Peter “Otto” Abeles would tell him his story. And that he did. The result was “Otto, the Boy at the Window,” a book they co-authored and published in 2001. Since then, this story has taken on a life of its own.   

In 2005, while performing in the stage play Scrooge, Hicks met Mt. Juliet playwright Bill Dorian, who was the narrator in the production. For some time Hicks and Abeles had been discussing the possibility of having Pete’s story developed into a stage play.  This chance meeting of Hicks and Dorian resulted in the stage version of Abeles’ story. It debuted in Nashville in 2007 with excellent reviews and was named “Best Original Holocaust Drama” by Martin Brady of the Nashville Scene. This May and June, Otto Productions will once again bring this story to life with shows in Mt. Juliet and Hendersonville.

Abeles was born in the early 1930s in Vienna, Austria and was raised by an emotionally abusive mother and a father who took no real interest in him or his older brother, Heinz Robert. The family lived in an upper middle class Jewish neighborhood with all the modern comforts, including a chauffeur and a maid. The year prior to the Anschluss his father had even been named the “Businessman of the Year” for the city of Vienna. But, on March 12, 1938, the Abeles’ world and that of all Jewish families in Austria was about to suddenly change for the worse. After nearly losing everything, including their lives, Peter’s father was able to make contact with two American Abeles’ families who would ultimately sponsor them and bring them to Chicago.

In addition to the stage play, Dorian has also written a screenplay that is attracting a number of well known actors and directors and is slated to begin production in the late fall or early spring of next year. 

The stage production will run for two weekends (May 15-17 and 22-24) at Encore Theatre in Mt. Juliet and one weekend (June 5-7) at Steeple Players Theatre in Hendersonville.

For interested actors, the auditions will be held on Sunday, March 8 from 2-4 p.m. and Monday, March 9 from 7-9 p.m. at Encore Theatre Company located at 14905-A Lebanon Road in Mt. Juliet and again on Sunday, March 15 from 2-4 p.m. and Monday, March 16 from 7-9 p.m. at Northeast Church in Hendersonville located at 100 God Why Court. Lead roles are available for one man (35-50), one woman (35-50), two boys (6-12), 1one woman aged 50-70, and two men (18-30). Additional roles are available for 8-10 men of all ages, one to two women (20-30), and one woman of any age. 

Questions concerning the auditions may be directed to Dorian at William.Dorian@comcast.net or Rodney Pickel at Pickelface@comcast.net.

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