Jonesborough Repertory Theatre Presents Its Twentieth 1940s USO Show
Published 1:56 pm Wednesday, June 15, 2022
The JRT is excited and honored to bring its twentieth presentation of the ever-popular 1940s USO Show to its community. Join the cast and band as they create a 40s-style live radio broadcast, which at one time served as a key source of entertainment and news for the American troops. This year’s song lineup includes “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “Six Jerks in a Jeep,” “The General Jumped at Dawn,” “Shhh, It’s a Military Secret,” and, as with the past USO shows, the powerful “Military Medley” that recognizes every serviceman and veteran in the audience
Over the years, hundreds of cast members have been involved with JRT’s 1940s USO Show, but there are five original cast members who have been a part of every production and have joined the cast again this year: Josh Baldwin, Janette Gaines, Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt, Lucas Schmidt, and Sharon Squibb. Several of them share their thoughts:
Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt: The 1940s USO Show is special to me because it honors our veterans. By honoring them, we are also celebrating our freedom made possible because of their sacrifices. This show provides a way in which we can publicly say thank you to those who have given so much.
Janette Gaines: JRT’s USO show has a special place in my heart. This will be my twentieth time performing for the military in our audience, their families, and our community. I am quite proud to come from a military family. Growing up a navy brat, I learned what sacrifice meant. Often times, my dad would have to leave us for months at a time. I realize there are many today and in days gone by who had to make similar sacrifices. Looking at America’s history, I have a great admiration and respect for those who made sacrifices— leaving the comfort of home and family, maybe suffering both physically and mentally—and for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives. I know my freedom was not free. We live in the best country in the world because of those sacrifices. I feel honored to be able to show my appreciation by performing for them and their families. The music of the 1940s, I believe, encompasses the very best of patriotic music. It is fun to sing, and the message is clear: support the troops in whatever way you are able.
Sharon Squibb: This is my twentieth USO show with JRT. I’m what we call one of the “originals.” There are five of us who have appeared in every show, and it’s an experience I treasure each year. USO is first and foremost a tribute to our veterans and their sacrifice and service to our country. We highlight the music and era of the 1940s, but we honor the brave men and women of all generations who have put others before themselves. This show has also provided me with a family of friends I will always cherish. It embodies the true meaning of community. As we navigate difficult times, we all need as much love as possible.
Lucas Schmidt: The USO show has been in my life long enough to consider it a family tradition as well as a theatre tradition for JRT. It was my first major introduction to live theatre as a performer. I began at age 14 playing drums for the band (at the time a 2-piece band) in the show. I’ve since switched to singing and dancing and acting in the show. My mother writes, directs, and performs in the USO show; as a result, I’ve been privileged to grow up working with my mother in a collaborative, creative way. It introduced me to heroes of music like Irving Berlin, the Andrews Sisters, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Can Calloway, George Gershwin, and many others. Most importantly, the show honors those who sacrificed their safety, comfort, and lives to protect our country. It’s always an honor and heart-warming experience seeing the veteran patrons stand when they hear their branch of the military played. I love God, my country, my family, and performing. This show allows me to honor all of these things at once.
The 1940s USO Show is written and directed by Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt, choreographed by Jessica Shelton, and stage managed by Emma Perry and Mary Wallen. Band direction is by Lucas Schmidt, with music arrangement by Sloan Hill. Rounding out the cast are Bethany Bennett, Summer Boothe, Parker Dugger, Becky Edmisten, Angela Grigsby, Joe Gumina, Abigail Haagen, Shawn Hale, Mika Hoilman, Joseph Hunter, Bennett Little, Bill Livesay, Mandy Mangiacotti, Nathan Marooney, Joy Nagy, Sarah Robinson, Jessica Shelton, Corey Tickles, Sergio Vidrio, Jessica White, Brittany Whitson, and Kolby Wilson.
Band members are Dan Cobb, Sloan Hill, Stacia Howard, Shane Ladd, Joy Nagy, Dustin Odom, Andrew Oliver, Gregg Perry, and Steve Wilaniskis.
The production is sponsored by Donna & Dan Cobb, Denny Dentistry, Sonia King, McLeod Organics, Park Hill Realty Group, and Ashley & Judy Whitehurst.
This year’s USO show runs from June 23 to July 3. For ticket information or to purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423-753-1010 or go online to jonesboroughtheatre.com. There is also a special group rate for parties of 15 or more. The theatre is located at 125.5 W. Main St., Jonesborough, TN.
(The JRT USO show is not affiliated with the USO organization.)