PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (KUTV) — A Utah fundraiser next month will aim to collect money to help Ukrainian refugees.
But this event has been in the works for years, well before Ukraine was invaded by Russia.
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Ben Lowell and Carissa Klitgaard have spent four years composing Kalyna: The Musical. It follows a Ukrainian family through several generations of the country’s history and struggle for independence.
“We truly feel like it’s a love letter to Ukraine,” said Klitgaard, who wrote the words.
Lowell, who composed the music, added, “we want people to fall in love with Ukraine.”
Even though it’s not a full production yet, Lowell and Klitgaard decided they needed to share the musical in light of Ukraine’s struggle against Russia. Kalyna: The Musical will debut April 23 at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City. Performers will sing and read the parts in a concert-style presentation.
ALSO: Ukrainian family in U.S. since start of invasion to stay in Utah until war ends
All proceeds will go to benefit Ukrainian refugees through US Friends of AMAR.
Klitgaard said performing the musical “feels really vulnerable” since it wasn't completely ready for the stage, but “we knew we had to do something.”
Hailey Hyde, a Brigham Young University vocal and dance student, performed one of the songs for KUTV 2News Tuesday afternoon at a studio in Pleasant Grove. The song is called “Sky.”
“The flag of Ukraine is blue and yellow,” Klitgaard said, “and the blue represents sky.”
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She said the song is about struggle and a cry from the show's title character for answers, which the musical’s finale will aim to answer.
“It’s really about who these people are at their core and how they’ve struggled to survive and preserve their culture,” said Klitgaard.
Lowell added, “We wanted people to not only feel sorry for what’s happening, but to really latch on and become allied with the country and the people.”
To buy tickets for the April 23 performance, click here.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct name and website of the charity working with Ukrainian refugees, as provided to KUTV 2News by event organizers.