“I’ll Be Seeing You: Love Stories of World War II,” a revue of songs and true stories honoring the Greatest Generation premieres at The Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, on June 11 at 8:00 p.m. The production, presented by the Center, which tells their stories and recreates special songs of the day, was created by actor, singer, writer, costumer, and director Ellen Kingston, who is also the Center’s Director of Creative Events.
The stories included in “I’ll Be Seeing You” were collected by Kingston through interviews and social-media exchanges with people who lived through the war era. They shared their telegrams, handwritten letters and firsthand recollections of wartime romances for the original musical production. The stories spotlighted are those of eight specific couples, with a narrator and projected images providing background details and the performers singing each couple’s favorite tunes and other songs from the period. They include Great American Songbook classics, such as “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” and “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.”
The cast of local singers and dancers includes Olivia Broadwater, Tiffany Gilliam, Jerry Hacker, Kathleen Hacker, Nathanael Hein, Joseph Perkins, Melissa Schott and Matthew Vire. Music Director David Duncan will lead a live combo with musicians Becky Chappell, Bill Myers, Rob West and Ginny Womack.
Recently, I communicated by email with Kingston about the production. Below is our exchange.
What is your interest in the World War II era?
I am awed by the generation and their ability to thrive in spite of extraordinarily trying circumstances. One of the stories we are telling is that of my parents. I am doing this to honor them and my sister, who wrote a book about finding her birth father, who died before she was born. She is Dr. Susan Handler and the book its titled “The Beauty of What Remains: Family Lost, Family Found.” It’s a great read!
Tell me about the cast.
These are some of the best singers in town and each of them has the heart and the spirit needed to tell these stories in song.
What can audiences expect to experience?
A multimedia presentation on the video wall over the Palladium stage that includes black-and-white home movies, still photos of young men in uniform, couples posing after their wartime weddings, young families, and then couples in their later years who survived the war/ Stories will be told through recorded narration, and each story has two songs with special meaning to a particular family, and then there are beautiful songs sung by the group throughout the show.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?
They will be moved to tears by the courage, tenacity and devotion of those who experienced the war years and went on to build strong families in spite of their trials. Audiences will have a new, personal appreciation and respect for their parents and grandparents when they leave the theatre. I hope people will bring their entire family to see this moving piece of theatre so that the Greatest Generation continues to be revered for decades to come.
The performance is set for 8:00 p.m. June 11 at the Palladium. Tickets at $10-$25 go on sale at 10:00 a.m. Friday, April 8, through the Center’s Fifth Third Bank Box Office, online at TheCenterPresents.org and by phone at (317) 843-3800. A free livestream will be available for viewing on the Center’s website and social media channels.