Cranford High School to present moving ‘Letters to Sala’

CRANFORD, NJ — Cranford High School’s Academy of Performing Arts will present “Letters to Sala,” a drama about the Holocaust, on Friday, May 26, at 7:30 p.m., at the Cranford High School auditorium, 201 West End Place, Cranford. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5 per person or online at This full-length production is the culmination of the APA Acting and Technical Theater students’ work.

“Letters to Sala,” based on a true account, is the remarkable story of a young girl’s survival during wartime Germany. Five years. Seven Nazi labor camps. More than 350 hidden letters. Sala Garncarz Kirschner kept her secret for more than 50 years, concealing her incredibly painful history in a Spill and Spell box.

Everything changes when Sala reveals the cache to her grown daughter, Ann.
“Letters to Sala” draws from the emotional journeys that begin for both Ann and Sala when the letters resurface. Through scholarly research, Ann discovers that her mother has made a historically significant impact on Holocaust documentation. As Ann processes her own reaction to her mother’s story, her daughters, Caroline and Elisabeth, also realize for the first time the weight of their Jewish heritage. Simultaneously, Ann’s study of the letters throws Sala into the past again. She relives her youth, recalling her naïve desire for adventure, the disillusionment of her life in the work camps, and her loss of communication with the outside world as the war progressed around her.

Playwright Arlene Hutton drives the two stories to a single question: What is to be done with these letters? If Sala risked her life to hold onto them as a young woman imprisoned in a work camp, are they merely the emotionally rich relics of her past life?

Or are they worthy and important historical documents that demand to be shared with the public? Three generations of Kirschner women must work together to sift through the past and come to terms with the true gravity of Sala’s letters.

This showcase stars the talents of Lili Rebelo as Young Sala, Olivia Olivella as Sala and Niamh O’Donovan as Ala Gertner. Featuring the talents of, in alphabetical order, Haley Baranowski, Alexa Bobko, Jordan Burd, Kyra Goga, Anna Kalafatis, Judith Kirkikis, Kelly McMahon, Brian Nigro, Laura Salway, Brenden Scalea, Katrina Wischusen, Noah Wohlsen and Sophie Zacharda.