By PAM JOHNSON
The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre cast always looks forward to the return of the annual “1940s USO Christmas Show.” This year’s performances will run from Dec. 5 through 15. Theater-goes are encouraged to get tickets as soon as possible because this show tends to sell out early.
And this year’s production is notable because plans are already in the works to move the USO shows back to the summer starting in 2021.
The USO show takes the audience back to the World War II era of the 1940s, when the radio was used to reach out and encourage our troops wherever they were stationed, as well as their families left at home. The production continues to be anticipated as a wondrous collaboration of singing, dancing, and “laugh-out-loud” skits.
Though it keeps the same fast-paced format and patriotic vibe, there is fresh content each year.
This is the 16th year for the JRT to present a USO show to the Tri-Cities community. Some of the cast and crew shared their thoughts about why it’s such a special show:
Sharon Squibb: “The USO is packed full of positive, heart-warming entertainment that brings joy to the audiences. Most of all, I look forward to honoring the brave men and women who give their highest service to our country.”
Shawn Hale: “It is special to me because it has a way of touching hearts and bringing out the best in the cast because it is a true ensemble show where music, dance, singing and heart all become one in honor of our veterans.”
Randi Lappin: “I am particularly touched by how it benefits Honor Flight. My grandfather went on his two months before he died, and it meant so much to him!”
Noelle Crawford: “The fun 40s feel and the high energy!”
Joe Gumina: “I am thrilled to be a part of a show that celebrates the Christmas spirit of charity, peace, and goodwill towards men, while honoring the sacrifice of our armed forces.”
Josh Baldwin: “I think for me it is so special because we honor those who have protected our freedom. And it takes us back to a simpler time.”
Dan Cobb: “I am proud and honored to be around such incredible talent, especially when it involves something so very important— the freedom we enjoy. Most of all, I love seeing what is obviously heartfelt patriotism by my fellow performers.”
Emily Horvath: “I think the most special thing about the show is the bond between cast members. No matter how stressful it’s gotten, everyone is still laughing and joking and being supportive, making it a great environment to work in.”
Emily Nagy: “There’s nothing but pure joy on the stage. We get to be America’s cheerleaders!”
Kellie Reeves: “During the Christmas season, we are all looking for a little bit of magic and I have found that here, as I’ve watched this USO show come together.”
Each year, the USO is written and directed by Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt. This production is choreographed by Heather Allen and the band is directed by Lucas Schmidt. Sponsors are Morningstar Farm, Acorn Electrical Specialists, Denny Dentistry, Citizens Bank, Ashley Whitehurst, and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.
Rounding out the cast are Annika Beatty, Eric Beatty, Bob Browning, Ben Collins, Stephen Cradic, Janette Gaines, Kate Hollenbeck, Isaiah Johnson, Canyon Kindle, Rebekah Knisely, Charles Landry, Joy Nagy, Tabby Oliver, Jessie Scarbrough, Jessica Shelton, Don Squibb, and Connie Taylor.
Performances run most every day from Dec. 5 through 15: Thursdays at 7:30; Fridays at 7:30 (and 5:00 on the 13th); Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00, 5:00, and 7:30; Monday and Tuesday at 7:30. Tickets are $17 general admission, $15 for students and seniors. There is also a special group rate for parties of 15 or more. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com.