2017 marks the hundredth anniversary of the U.S. entry into the “War to End All Wars.” On May 20 and 21, the Gingerbread Players commemorate that historic event with Over There!, a cabaret combining food and drink of the era with a program of great popular songs inspired by the conflict.
Over There! borrows the format of a war-bond rally, a popular and effective means of stirring up patriotic sentiment to promote the sale of Liberty Bonds, which helped pay for the war. Great entertainers of the era, such as Enrico Caruso, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin, famously devoted their time to performances and speeches at these events, and there were plenty of grass-roots efforts as well, including one right here at the Forest Hills Inn.
When the U.S. entered the war, in April 1917, neighborhoods such as Forest Hills demonstrated their patriotism by engaging in a variety of fundraising and war-relief efforts. Forest Hills Gardens Bulletins from the war years detail the activities local residents took part in to support U.S. troops abroad and boost morale at home. Scout troops (girls as well as boys) and members of the Women’s Club were among the busiest participants, making pillows and bandages for wounded soldiers and rehearsing choral programs of patriotic hymns to encourage their fellow citizens to invest in the war.
William Ryden, a Pulitzer-Prize-nominated composer and aficionado of the music of the era, has arranged a program of all-American songs touching on multiple aspects of the American response to the war, ranging from flag-waving anthems to nostalgic ballads to the heartbreaking laments of mothers and children whose loved ones were fighting at the front. Guest soloists Victoria Esposito (soprano), Olivia Smith (mezzo), Eric Alexieff (tenor) and Todd Wachsman (baritone) join a cast of Gingerbread Players stalwarts including David Friedman, Jim Chamberlain and Andrew Dinan to bring this fascinating era back to life. St. Luke’s Choir director William J. Stokes makes his GP debut as music director and accompanist, and pianist Ivy Adrian and dancer/choreographer Lisa Bondi lend their talents as well.
Over There! is presented for two performances only in the parish hall of the historic St. Luke’s Church, at 85 Greenway South in Forest Hills Gardens. The donation of $25/person for this unique musical soirée includes generous refreshments served at your table. Reservations are strongly recommended. To reserve individual seats or a table for four, call 718-268-7772, or visit www.gingerbreadplayers.org.
Performances: Saturday, May 20, at 7 pm., and Sunday, May 21, at 2:30 p.m. (Doors open at the announced time; the curtain will go up half an hour later to give guests time to settle in and enjoy their refreshments)
For press tickets & information, contact: Louise Guinther: 212-769-7082; firstname.lastname@example.org