Tickets to this event were generously provided by Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. All opinions are my own.

Who Among Us Is Brave Enough to Stand Up Against Hate?

Bravery and compassion are at the heart of Number the Stars at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. Based on the Lois Lowry classic, this play tackles difficult but important issues that will open up meaningful conversations in your family.

I attended opening night with two second graders and a third grader, and we all loved the play. The pacing and scene changes are perfect for younger attention spans



Due to the heavier subject matter, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre recommends this show for children ages 9 and up, but it it truly a great show for this age set, as they can learn about this dangerous time in history at a kid’s level

“The show is told from a child’s perspective, and she does not understand immediately how dangerous the situation truly is. I think this helps the show to stay family friendly, even though the subject matter is not,” said cast member Anna Peerbolt (Woman with Baby). 

“…an Ordinary Person Who Would Never Be Called Upon for Courage”

Number the Stars is a beautifully cast show that centers around the friendship of two young girls, Lutheran Annemarie Johansen (Emilia Shaw) and Jewish Ellen Rosen (Evangeline Vander Ark). The girls live in Denmark in the fall of 1943, where the country is inhabited by Nazi soldiers.

As tensions rise and Jewish neighbors begin to be relocated, Annemarie’s family joins the resistance by hiding Ellen and protecting her parents. Though Annemarie sees herself as “an ordinary person who would never be called upon for courage,” she will see her own bravery blossom as the play’s events unfold.

It’s true that the heavier themes of this play may be confusing or scary for younger viewers. There are times when Nazi soldiers are shouting threats at the Johansen family, and it is obvious that the “relocation” facing the Jews is not something pleasant. However, none of the scenes that were too intense for my viewers.

And interspersed throughout these solemn scenes are moments of perfect comic relief, provided by Annemarie’s younger sister, Kirstie (Grace Berlin). My son and his friends unanimously decided she was the best character of the show.  

Use This Show to Start Conversations at Home

We had excellent conversation as we drove home that night. The question that elicited the most discussion was “If it was against the law for the Johansen family to help the Rosen family, were they making the right choice to help anyway?”  I have a feeling we will be talking about this show for a while.

Don’t Miss Number the Stars!

There are only a limited number of opportunities to see this moving show, so don’t miss out! There are evening shows beginning at 7:30 on October 18, 19, and 20, and 2:00 matinees on October 14, 20, and 21. Tickets are $20 for adults and $12 for children, and they can be purchased from Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s Website or buy calling the box office at (616) 222-6650×0.


30 N. Division, Grand Rapids MI

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | 616-222-6650

By |2018-10-13T18:37:43+00:00October 13th, 2018|Categories: Reviews|1 Comment

About the Author:

Jennie VanderLugt
Jennie VanderLugt is a stay at home mama who spends the majority of her time with her sons, aged 7 and 5. When she isn’t mommin’, she loves musicals and all things theatre, farmer’s markets, and true crime shows/podcasts. Jennie lives in Holland and loves spending time along the lakeshore. You can find more of her musings, jokes, and real life reflections at

One Comment

  1. Eddie Stephens January 14, 2018 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    Carla, thank you for the wonderful review. It is encouraging to know that what we are trying to portray on stage is being received, understood, and felt. As tough as the subject matter is, is has been the privilege of my short stage career to portray such an incredible man and icon, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Like LBJ, he was a complex man, but had a determination that was spiritually inspired to do what was right and just for his people. I agree with you that the entire cast does an incredible job of bringing these historical figures to life. The good, bad, and yes, even the evil.

    Thank you for helping us encourage people to come see All the Way, and be entertained, educated, and challenged.

    Sincerely, Eddie Stephens (aka Dr. Martin Luther King Jr).

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