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Veterans program planned at theater

| Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 10:31 a.m.
Peter Turcik | for the Ligonier Echo
The cast of GI Jukebox (first row from the left) Kate Richards, Amy Yanity, Karen Snyder and Molly Richards; Second row director Dean Morris and Graham Greene.

In honor of Veterans Day, the Valley Players of Ligonier will entertain the audience in the style of a USO show with a production of “G.I. Jukebox.” The show will feature music from the 1940s — song by artists Dean Martin, Bob Hope and the Andrew Sisters.

Director Dean Morris said the set list for shows includes around 30 songs, many of which are recognizable even to audience members who did not live during that time.

“G.I. Jukebox” will be presented at the Ligonier Theater on Friday through Sunday and Nov. 15 to 17. Friday and Saturday shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday shows will begin at 2:30 p.m.

“A lot of these songs, at this point in our lives, these are standards. Some of these songs have probably been recorded by 20 different artists over the years,” Morris commented. “People will certainly remember the songs if they are of the age, but these would not be songs that people will know only because they lived in the era. These are songs that people would know because they have become standards in popular music throughout the '50s and '60s and even into the '70s.”

The ensemble of singers will include Morris, Amy Yanity, Jonathan Lunn, Kate and Molly Richards, Graham Greene and Karen Snyder. Morris said a number of the performers have not participated in shows in Ligonier for the last nine or 10 years. However, they have done a similar show with the Bethany Players in Latrobe called “1940s Radio Hour.”

Morris explained that the Valley Players did the same show a number of years ago, but this time the show has a brand new cast, as well as a new concept by increasing the number of vocalists in the show.

“The original show had only four people on stage,” Morris noted. “We tried to enhance the amounts of harmonies and the vocal abilities on stage. We added a couple additional people so that there is a fuller voice on stage; there is more harmony.”

In addition to being standards in the history of pop music, Morris also said many songs from the era contain subject matter that artists in later years and in the modern sphere simply do not sing about anymore.

“They don't write songs today about Al-Qaeda and the soldiers marching off to war,” Morris said. “They wrote songs in this era that helped promote the support of the American people to the war effort. We sold war bonds. They took USO shows over there to entertain the troops. These songs were about lost love, guys going to war, the experience of being separated from one another because of war. That has become something that we have never seen again. I think that people are going to enjoy the variety of music, the harmonies, and the simplicity of quality music of an era gone by.”

Tickets are $18 for adults and students and $12 for veterans and members of the military.

Peter Turcik is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.