Treat yourself to a merry little patriotic time and take in "Red, White and Blue Christmas: A Tribute to the USO Camp Shows of WWII." The New Depot Players holiday show is an early Christmas gift featuring the era's torch ballads and jazz standards with an original script by director Bonnie Marshall containing both poignant and funny tales of the time.
"It's mostly a musical revue tied together with bits and pieces of first-hand history of USO performers, the soldiers in greasepaint," said Marshall. She leaned on Maxene Andrews account, "Over Here Over There - The Andrews Sisters," among other sources for the script. "I went looking for stories and dialogue," said the former Rockdale County High School English and theater teacher. "The more I read the more I wanted to read."
Criss-crossing the globe entertaining troops home and abroad at bases and in hospitals and jungles, the USO staged over 400,000 shows between 1941 and 1947. Marshall said both stars and little-known performers from Hollywood, Broadway and vaudeville wanted to support the troops. "It would be harder to find a star not involved between the home circuit and overseas, and many of them considered it the best time of their lives."
The golden-voiced eight-member ensemble includes NDP's talented Joseph Harrison, Kim Fratesi, Miranda Tamaska, Katie Durham, Brittany Jackson, Gabriel Couret, Chris Strutko and Daniel Thompson. They not only deliver, crooning the legendary tunes with aplomb, but bring heart and levity to wartime scenarios. In his role as master of ceremonies, Patrick Telley channels Bob Hope.
Rounding out their performances is a rotating cast of guest stars. To name drop a few - the incredible Patty Maguire, most recently Patsy Cline in "Honky Tonk Angels," and NDP husband-wife duos Kelley and Lisa Whitmire, Amber and Craig McCullough and Frank and Jackie Lunsford. Even two former Ms. Senior Georgia Pageant winners - Norma Jean Planner and Joyce Brown - join in for good measure.
Tickling the ivories is Brittney Jaynes, who plays renowned tunes of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, and other greats. Selita Johnson and Colleen Gaensssley choreograph some of the boogie woogie and jive-esque dance maneuvers of the day.
If you're beginning to overdose on Christmas tunes, fear not. The wonderful revue combines Irving Berlin's holiday sounds with classics like "Embraceable You." Though calendars rapidly fill up in December; a trip down this memory lane would be time well-spent.
The show runs Dec. 8 -10 and 15 - 17 at 8 p.m. with 3 p.m. matinees on Dec. 11 and 18 at 910 Center Street in Conyers. General admission tickets are $20 with a senior and student rate of $16. For tickets or more information, visit www.thenewdepotplayers.com or call 678-374-3224.