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Wrinkles of Washington Logo. Please click on logo to return to home page. Photo of the cast from the Fall 2001 show

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Stars and Stripes Forever

WOW Fall 2001 Production

From its inception, "Stars and Stripes Forever" was to be a departure from the traditional light and frothy Wrinkles of Washington production.  After all, 2001 is the 60th anniversary of the outset of World War II, as well as the 60th anniversary of the United Service Organization (USO).  So there came to fruition a serious show, interspersed with moments of lightness and humor, intended to honor all persons of every branch of the service who dedicated their lives and their sacred honor to the preservation of liberty.  Two of the final choral numbers were "Let There be Peace on Earth", and "God Bless America."

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Just over thirty-six hours after our final performance those two songs took on new meaning, as a group of maniacal, suicidal, and mindless terrorists seized domestic aircraft and deliberately crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in rural Virginia, and in the Pennsylvania countryside.  The final casualty list, which will reach well into the thousands, has yet to be calculated.  But just as those valiant men and women whose supreme sacrifice is recorded in the annals of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War, so, too, are the victims of terror casualties of war.  To all who have fought and died, or served and survived, or are the innocent victims of fanaticism, we dedicate our lives and our songs, our enduring respect and our love.

Click on the photos for enlargement and additional text.  Photography by Wrinkles of Washington photographer, John Vosburgh.

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It is December 8, 1941, and banner headlines announce that America is at war.  As the citizens gather in the square of Anytown, USA, they come to realize that their duty calls them "Over There."  Sergeant Pepper lines up a most unlikely collection of recruits, who will soon discover that they’re in the Army now.  It’s a time for tearful farewells, as young men just out of high school must say goodbye to their sweethearts.  Facing an uncertain future, they wonder "What’ll I Do" as they promise to be faithful with only a photograph to tell their troubles to.  Mom and baby Jimmy are left behind as Johnny is called to serve with the knowledge that "I’ll Never Smile Again", until family unity is restored.

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Total war has its effect on the home front, as well.  Air raid sirens (blessedly only tests) are heard in every city, town, and hamlet, and air raid wardens wearing the paraphernalia of Civil Defense are charged with assuring that no glint of light will be permitted to guide enemy bombers to their targets.  Women left behind hang stars in the window to signify family members in the service.  Tragically, too many of them are gold, denoting sons or husbands who will not be returning.  They gather to pack cookies and clean underwear and other things the boys overseas might need.  They are concerned with ration coupons, victory gardens, conserving gasoline, and saving tin cans.  Their upstairs hallways are lined with buckets of sand, and their bathtub is always full of water lest incendiary bombs find them.  They acknowledge that you're "A Million Miles" from nowhere, when you're one little mile from home.  The role of women has changed.  As their men go off to war, they are left to fill the void in defense industries.  "Rosie the Riveter", clad in jumpsuit and bandanna, is a common sight as the country buckles down to war production.  Victory mail (V-mail) is the medium of exchange between home and the men overseas, and many of the letters are addressed to "Dear Mom."

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MAIL CALL!  We get packages from home, cookies to be shared with everyone!  There’s a Dear John for Davey, poor guy - after she promised to be true and wait for him.  What’s this?  Whoa, now we’re talkin’ - fanny flags and clean skivvies!  How do moms know these things?  There are Willie and Joe in their foxhole, and if you look carefully, there’s Bill Mauldin sketching them for Stars and Stripes.  The word is out that a USO show is a-comin’, the Red Cross ladies are ready, and the dancers are painting seams on their nylonless legs.  But we soon find out that it’s not the show everyone expected.

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Impresario Billy Rosebud learns to his horror (and that of the irrepressible Tess Tumble) that the A-troupe is otherwise engaged, and we get the J-troupe (WHAT?).  It’s not Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna - it’s Bob Hoop and Jerry Colonic, along with such luminaries as Rita Haystack, Sophie Pucker (the last of the red-hot grammas), and Mel Toupe.

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It’s show time, and we discover that while Bob Hoop is an accomplished saxophonist ("After You’ve Gone"), he is a terrible comedian, telling jokes that were stale in the great San Juan Island Pig War.  But the show is a rouser, with Colonel Halen Hardy reminding his troops that "We Did it Before", and by gum we’ll do it again!  Red hot gramma Sophie Pucker leaves us aching for "Something to Remember You By", and the McAndrews Sisters outshine their counterparts with "Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree."  Hoop’s sidekick, Jerry Colonic, who seems to be chronically unemployed, remembers that "He Left his Heart in San Francisco."  Rita Haystack sends temperatures soaring with "Hey, Daddy", and in that tropical atmosphere, we find the Hula Hoppers returning to their Little Grass Shack.  Still in the torrid zone, Tess Tumble reveals the incomparable contours and coiffure of her own true Honey Bun.  Interspersed with all this are two utterly wonderful dance numbers performed by the toe-tappin’ Boeing Belles.  They are the "Washington Post March", led by Twirling Trixie, and "Why Me."  We have reached the end of World War II, and Dad is restored to his loving family.

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It is now five years later.  The troops who liberated Europe find themselves recalled for the Forgotten War, and assigned to the bleak landscape of Korea.  As they learn they are to head north in the morning right after reveille, they tell anyone who will listen "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning."  In a romance that has lain dormant since they met in France,  Bob Hoop rediscovers his favorite nurse.  He tells her what might happen "If We Were in Love", and they delight in learning that these dreams will in fact come true.

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The Hoop Troupe is back again (worse luck) and the GIs get more than a bit overheated as Wanda Lust reminds them to kiss her once, twice, thrice, because "It’s Been a Long, Long Time."  She is truly Wonderfully Warm, preparing her audience for the best legs in Show Biz, the beautiful Boeing Belles in a torrid "12th Street Rag."  Abe, deputy impresario to Billy Rosebud, who is responsible for all the entertainment SNAFUs, FUBARs and TARFUs, tries to make amends with a rousing version of "Chattanooga Choo Choo."  The steam continues to rise as Miss Dorothy La Tush from La Push, assures us that "You’ll Never Know" just how much she loves us.  We find now that Colonic has recruited a bunch of dogfaces to stomp around to the tune of "This is the Army, Mr. Jones", which in itself should be enough to make any invading army head for the hills.  But the USO show is interrupted by incoming fire, and the Korean War scenario ends in a battlefield MASH unit.

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War is now raging in an obscure place in Southeast Asia.  Jimmy, who was a tot when Dad marched off to war in 1942, is now in uniform and scheduled to shove off for Vietnam.  In a tearful scene, the two of them discuss the horrors and the realities of war.  In yet another visually extraordinary scene we hear the "Ballad of the Green Berets", followed by a bereaved mother lamenting the tragic loss of her son with "Something About an Empty Chair."  She leaves a folded flag behind, as the chaplain through three wars memorializes all lost in combat with "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables."  There follows an incredible "Taps" by trumpeter Parrish Sellers, and we know that Jimmy has made the supreme sacrifice.

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The ensemble prays "Let There be Peace on Earth", and yields once more to the Boeing Belles for a spectacular tribute to the USA - "Stars and Stripes Forever", which gives all a chance to brush away at least some of our tears. Now we collectively salute the armed forces, with "The Caisson Song" (Army), "Semper Paratus" (Coast Guard), "The Marine’s Hymn", (Marine Corps), "The Wild Blue Yonder" (Air Force), and "Anchors Aweigh" (Navy).

All join in with "God Bless America", and we leave with a song in our heart, acknowledging the immeasurable contribution that our armed forces have made to our fundamental liberties over the past six decades.

May the STARS and STRIPES, indeed wave FOREVER!

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