JRT’s 1940s USO Show Travels to Elizabethton

Published 4:49 pm Monday, June 21, 2021

By Pam Johnson
Step back into the 1940s with Jonesborough Repertory Theatre’s radio station, WJRT, as the theatre presents the 18th annual 1940s USO Show. 
When America entered World War II, radio airwaves served as a key source of entertainment and news for families on the home front, as well as entertainment for the troops at home and overseas. 
The USO cast will broadcast live radio skits, and the talented performers will sing and dance to numerous patriotic and familiar tunes as we honor our military families with this memorable celebration of our freedom. 
Director Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt said the show is especially relevant this year. “More than ever, we need for the country to come together and support each other, support our military and honor the American flag, the symbol of our freedom. We need this message of positivity and patriotism.”
There will be familiar and not-so-familiar songs including You’re a Grand Old Flag; Here Comes the Navy; Minnie the Moocher; It’s Been a Long, Long Time; I’ve Got Spurs that Jingle, Jangle, Jingle; and the ever-popular Armed Forces Medley.

The original USO shows were designed to be traveling shows, and the JRT will get to do that this year. Because of renovations currently occurring at their theatre, the company is honored and thankful to perform at the Bonnie Kate Theatre in Elizabethton, TN. 

“I’ve heard that Carter County is one of the most patriotic counties in our area,” Ross-Bernhardt stated. “It feels good to take the show on the road to the Bonnie Kate. In fact, John Huber (on the BK building board) got his inspiration of revitalizing their theatre after seeing a USO show at the JRT years ago.”

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The 1940s USO Show is directed by Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt, choreographed by Jessica Shelton, and the band director is Lucas Schmidt. Music is arranged by Sloan Hill. The cast members are Josh Baldwin, Elijah Berry, Ubunibi-Afia Brooks-Short, Janette Gaines, Ryan Gray, Mika Hoilman, Kate Hollenbeck, Joe Gumina, Shawn Hale, Emush Lamb, Caleb Knisley, Rebekah Knisley, Annabelle Pechmann, Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt, Sarah Sanders, Lucas Schmidt, Jessica Shelton, Sharon Squibb, Corey Tickles, Alex Vanburen II, Krista Wharton, Brittany Whitson, Lucas Wilcox, Millie Williams, and Hollie Wright.

The USO band members are Dan Cobb, Sloan Hill, Stacia Howard, Shane Ladd, Joy Nagy, Gregg Perry, and Steve Wilaniskis.

Show times are Friday, July 2, at 7:30; Saturday, July 3, at 2:00, 4:00, 6:00, & 8:00; and Sunday, July 4, at 2:00, 4:00, & 6:00.
Tickets are $17 for general admission, $15 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423.753.1010 or go online to jonesboroughtheatre.com. The Bonnie Kate Theatre is located at 115 S. Sycamore St, Elizabethton, TN. This show is sponsored by Denny Dentistry and Sonia King.

Disclaimer: Regarding the photos, some actors are preparing for JRT’s upcoming production Something Rotten!, which takes place during the Renaissance so requires long hair and beards.
(The JRT USO show is not affiliated with the USO organization.)