Crystal Falls, Mich (WZMQ) – The Historic Crystal Theatre recently hosted a live theatre performance titled “War Bonds, songs and letters from World War II” that brought back memories of the war era. The live performance has been travelling to theatres for 20 years, keeping World War II memories alive with an enriching live history experience. The show featured Serena Ebhardt and David Zum Brunnen as performers, while Julie Florin served as the musical director and pianist.
Zum Brunnen shared that the idea for the show came from his father’s memories, which were featured in the performance. “The concept of the show began after I interviewed my father before he passed away, one of his memories is featured in the show actually,” the actor informed.
The show delivered classic songs like “I’ll be seeing you”, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, and “Rosie the Riveter ”. It also impressively highlighted the unique struggles that women who served in the forces faced during that time period, especially through the eyes of a female lieutenant who was fed-up with being of equal rank to her fellow male officers, but was only addressed as “Miss”, instead of a lieutenant in her career.
Ebhardt was the heart of the production, especially at one incredible and heart-dropping moment in the second act, when the music and show interpreted a memory in which a loved one wouldn’t be returning for Christmas, having paid the ultimate price in the war. “We played with some of the arrangements to make them a little jazzier or a little – like the stopping – you know everybody wants the song to finish but at that particular moment in the show, it doesn’t finish,” noted Ebhardt of the especially tragic moment in the show.
The musical director, Julie Florin commented that it is very important to all the performers that they keep bringing the show into schools when not in the theatre. “They realize – oh we know that tune, and they don’t realize it’s from this time period,”she remarked about how she has seen local students respond to the show over the years.
The War Bonds production performs for schools when not traveling to theaters around the country, and Ebhardt emphasized the importance of keeping the stories and tunes from World War II alive. “Because our young people don’t remember this time, and we’re getting to the point where it wasn’t their grandparents that could tell them the stories or their parents anymore, so these stories are very very important. The world ebbs and flows both politically and with warfare, and we’d like to never ever have to go into a situation like this again where the whole world is at war at once,” added Ebhardt.
“War Bonds, songs and letters from World War II” was a tribute to the men and women who served in the Second World War and their loved ones back home. The performance was a mix of music, letters, and personal stories that highlighted the human side of war.
“Not only is this show a thank you to those who lived during that time, and saw us through that time, but it’s also a celebrating and honoring not only those who served on the homefront but also those who served on the front lines of course, but those who paid the highest price and the greatest sacrifice,” Zum Brunnen shared.
Zum Brunnen stated that Rutgers University and the Library of Congress Veterans World History Project became interested in the “War Bonds” show, which allowed the performers to meet a variety of veterans. The show was a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who fought to protect their countries and the world. It was a tribute to those who served and a reminder of the importance of keeping their stories alive. “They’ve been an incredible support and were a great collaborator for it. So I would encourage anybody who has these types of letters not only from world war II, but other conflicts or other historical events, to please reach out to your local community college or your local high school, your library, the library of congress, no matter how simple or mundane you may think those letters or memories are – they are wanted,” urged the actor.
“War Bonds, songs and letters from World War II” was a must-see performance that not only received a standing ovation in the final act, but reminded us of the sacrifices made by those who fought in the Second World War. The Historic Crystal Theatre was the perfect venue for this “Gem-of-a-Show”, and the talented performers delivered an unforgettable experience that keeps these important and cherished memories alive and relatable to our youth.
The Crystal Theatre is going to be embracing the WWII era again soon, when they host a WWII-era USO dance organized by the theatre board. The Crystal is looking for volunteers for the event, which will be held in the auditorium at the City Hall with a tentative date set for November 11 to coincide with veteran’s day. The Crystal is also searching for local dance bands familiar with the jitterbug and other classic swing dances of the era for the charity event that will fund a new marquee for the theatre. They plan to serve classic foods served at USO dances during the era like hot dogs, popcorn, lemonade and desserts. They are planning to make this event a blast with a kissing booth, a 50-50 raffle, and photo-op cut-outs.
The actors of the show will be heading off to Wisconsin and keep the show going. Those who missed the performance, can also get a copy of a pre-recorded show, which is available on DVD on Amazon.
On Monday, the Crystal will host Montana’s Missoula Children’s Theatre. The Mizzoula will stay the week and audition local children for its adorable “Little Mermaid” production. Auditions will begin at 9:30 a.m. central time. There are approximately 50 roles available to local students grades 1-12. All students are encouraged to audition, and NO experience or advanced preparation is necessary. The children cast will need to be available for rehearsals throughout the week, and the performances for Friday and Saturday June 9th and 10th. For more information on how to audition, or to volunteer for the USO Dance Marquee Fundraiser, contact the Crystal Theatre at: