PBII - 1000 Wishes

Amsterdam Convention Factory

March 16, 2013 Amsterdam (NL)

1000 Wishes for KiKa
Sometimes I'm very privileged being a music reviewer because this way I get the opportunity to watch exclusive stage shows. This was also the case with the premier show of the rock opera 1000Wishes, a musical project that was brought to life by the Dutch progressive rock band PBII. Together with Hofstad Jeugdorkest, a symphony orchestra consisting of eighty young boys and girls, they recorded an eponymous studio album. This album was released together with a fantasy thriller written by Ronald van der Pol. Both tell the heroic adventures of a little boy who has to fight against cancer. The benefits of the project go to the Dutch foundation KiKa which is an abbreviation of Kinderen Kankervrij (Children Free of Cancer). KiKa's goal is to increase the recovery from children's cancer to 95 percent in 2025. For that purpose they raise funds for research. In front of their main sponsor everything fell into place for the first time: I wouldn't have wanted to miss that show anyway!

Unforeseen circumstances
However, what would you do if your body refuses to attend this special event? On the one hand the flu had taken over control and in fact it should have been better to stay in bed; on the other hand I didn't want to miss this show performed by musicians who I had followed for such a long time. I had to endure the pain, the fever and my sickness just like the children who suffer from cancer. How dare I even compare my flu with this terrible disease! These children have much more to suffer than I and 20 percent eventually dies from cancer...

Act One: Sander, Eric, and his grandfather
The location for this rock opera is just perfect; the entrance to the stage has been decorated with statues of knights and other contributions that should bring the audience in the right mood. After the last visitor sits down the show begins. The first players to appear on stage are Eric and Sander, the two boys who play the leading parts.
Stage overview:
Back (up): The band and lead vocalist.
Front (below): Orchestra and stage for play/dance
They are played by the young actors Pieter van Dijk en David van Alten, the first one having long blond hair and the other one wearing a baseball cap. Underneath this cap he's bold due to the chemotherapy. Both boys wear chains with beads that will help them in their fight against cancer. Then the curtains open, and the orchestra starts to play. Above the orchestra a second stage has been built on which PBII performed. To the left and to the right are two hospital beds in which the two young patients are resting. As soon as the nurses enter the stage the story begins to take shape. The nurses are played by the dancers of Het DansPlan from the Segbroek College. Eric's grandfather, played by actor Frits Lambrechts, who's dressed in a kind of cowboy outfit, lives in Australia. He gets a call from his nephew who tells him that he got cancer just like his grandmother, who died of this disease several years earlier. Eric and Sander become friends playing together with a musical box − a present of Sander's mother - while Eric's grandfather travels to the hospital. He appears to be a great help for Eric by telling him fantasy stories about the knight Lorian, who can fight Eric's demons. These demons only have evil thoughts making Eric sicker and sicker. During this first act I can't find out how the story ends, because an intermission of half an hour is included.
The gate to the theatre The Knight Sander (left) and Eric Grandfather

Act Two: all's well that ends well
At the beginning of the second part of the rock opera it turns out that Eric has lost his hair as well, while Sander's life comes to an end. He has lost his fight with cancer which is visualized by seeing him behind the drums. By playing a short solo he blows his last breath which has so much effect on Eric that he wants to end his life as well. His grandfather comforts him and tells him that 80 percent cures from cancer. However, evil is lurking behind them as the black vultures enter the stage. They want Eric too, but he's stronger than those evil birds and he succeeds in defeating cancer thanks to the many chemotherapies. He celebrates his victory together with the nurses. His chain of beads gets longer every day visualized on stage by a young company of dancers. In the end his nurse Hester, played by soprano singer Nathalie Mees,  tells him that he no longer has to stay in the hospital. He can go home with his parents and his grandfather, return to school and pick up the daily life he led before he got cancer.
Eric and his friend Sander Sander's last breath Difficult times for Eric.
Grandpa is trying to comfort him.

About the musicians
This story that actually happens in the every day's lives of young children is wonderfully played by a group of talented actors and dancers. Of course, not all parts of the book by Van der Pol were played on stage, but it came pretty close by using images projected at the back of the stage. This way the adventures of Eric
L to R: Alex, Ruud, Nathalie and Ronald
and the knight Lorian riding on horseback became even clearer to the audience who speechlessly watched the play! However, it has to be said; without the excellent musicians of PBII and  Hofstad Jeugdorkest the play would have been just a play. Thanks to their strong performances this rock opera sounded just like the recently released album. The only difference is that on stage Dutch was spoken instead of English. 1000Wishes is a fine blend of classical music, opera and progressive rock. Sometimes the music made me think of Time And A Word (1970), the second album by the famous British prog rock band Yes. On this album Yes also used a classical orchestra. The voice of PBII's new singer Ruud Slakhorst reminded me of Yes's former singer Jon Anderson. At other times the bombastic music which Rick Wakeman presented on albums like Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (1974) and The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table (1975) came to mind, thanks to the perfect blend of classical music and progressive rock.

Although I didn't feel well during this strong performance, it didn't mean that I couldn't enjoy it. I certainly could. This performance was a mind-boggling experience that I would highly recommend to those who like musical theatre performed by great actors, dancers, musicians and many volunteers. This performance had only one reason: to raise money and awareness for the Dutch foundation KiKa. I would like to compliment all the people involved in this production! Come and see this musical show while you still can and support the struggle against children's cancer!

See also our album review

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)


Act 1:
Perfect Day Part 1
Perfect Day Part 2
Never Old
Parental Thoughts

Act 2:
Land Of Thousand Wishes
The Loss
Evil Weed
Into The Light
Grand Finale

Pictures 1000 Wishes by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up:

(left to right)
Alex van Elswijk:
bass guitar & keyboard
Tom van der Meulen:
David van Alten:
Frits Lambrechts:
Pieter van Dijk:
Michel van Wassem:
keyboards and backing vocals
Ronald Brautigam:
Nathalie Mees:
soprano vocals, backing vocals and Nurse Hester
Ruud Slakhorst:
lead vocals
Marcel Geraeds:(not on picture)
Conductor of the HJO

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