If the bad news from Iraq has you nostalgic for a good, ol’ fashioned wartime reprieve (or if you can’t get enough of those outfits in Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman” video), The Village Playhouse has brought back its successful production of Swingtime Canteen with some good times for the war-trodden Spoleto audiences.
“The World War II era doesn’t scream fun, but this is a wonderful tribute to our men and women who have fought over many generations,” says the Playhouse’s Keely Enright.
Set in London in 1944, the show centers on Marian Ames, a failed movie star who has packed up and taken her closest friends at the Hollywood Canteen across the Atlantic to entertain the troops in a blockbuster USO show.
“It’s a gentle spoof of World War II-era USO shows with wonderful music from the 1940s,” Enright says.
Created to entertain the troops, the USO was at its peak in 1944, with more than 3,000 clubs and 700 USO shows a day. USO performers included Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, James Cagney, The Rockettes, Fred Astaire, the Andrews Sisters (most famously remembered for their USO record “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”), Lucille Ball, Glenn (“In the Mood”) Miller, and Mickey Rooney.
Swingtime Canteen includes over 30 classic songs of the era, including “Don’t Fence Me In,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “How High the Moon,” “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Postitive,” and an Andrews Sisters medley.
The last time the Playhouse put on Swingtime Canteen, many couples came to remember their experiences at the old canteens during the war. But Enright stresses the show is for audiences of all ages curious about those old days.
With the production set up as a USO show, the audience won’t just be watching the show, they’ll be participating.
“When you come to see the show, you’re one of the boys,” she says. “You’re the troops Ames and her friends are performing for.”
Cast members will be grabbing folks from out of the audience to dance and offering up USO-inspired refreshments.
“We go all-out with this one,” Enright says.
SWINGTIME CANTEEN • Piccolo Spoleto’s Theatre Series • $22 adults; $20 seniors/students • (2 hours) • May 26, 27, June 2, 3, at 3 p.m.; May 28, June 6 at 7 p.m. • Village Playhouse, 730 Coleman Blvd. • 554-6060
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