Historical tunes an ICT delight

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
From left, Dan Johnson, Jim Gilpin, Bill Wolf and Bryan Johnson sing a tune from the Iola Community Theatre production of “Memories, Dreams and Shadows — A Soldier’s Recollection,” which opens Saturday at the ICT Warehouse.

Iola Community Theatre’s production, “Memories, Dreams and Shadows — A Soldier’s Recollection,” is a wonderful way to learn history. The show features tunes popular during conflicts ranging from the Civil War up to today’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Rev. Jeff Cokely introduces each of the 19 songs with historical snippets, some from local soldiers who provided photographs that are part of a slide show.
William Christman, a soldier with the 67th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, was the first interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Cokely notes before music of the Civil War. He also reports real-time observations, such as comments from an Iola Iraqi combatant, who was not particularly proud of what he did, but rather “did what was required of him.”
Jan Knewtson put the show together and directs it. She chose 11 vocalists, six women and five men, all of whom have superb voices and are easily recognizable for their contributions in many musical venues in Iola. Males are Jim Gilpin, Bryan Johnson, Dan Johnson, Jim Rausch and Bill Wolf. Females are Susie McKinnis, Janet Nichols, Kim Strickler, Karen Toland, Liz Ulrich and Trudy Kenyon Anderson, the only newcomer to ICT productions.

SONGS KNEWTSON selected align with the time periods of conflicts they represent, but don’t necessarily include military themes.
“Amazing Grace” is tied closely to the Civil War, when religion played a more active role in everyday life.
“I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now” was a tune that reflected the thoughts and feelings of doughboys hunkered in French trenches during World War I. “As Time Goes By” is immediately identifiable to World War II.
“Moon River” was a popular song for U.S. forces in Korea on that stage.
“The Jersey Boys Medley,” was a collection of 1960’s songs from Frankie Vallee and The 4 Seasons and was often on the minds of young Americans as they streamed aboard troop planes for the flight to Vietnam. The male singers dance through several of the “Jersey Boys” songs, with choreography making their crooning all the better.
The show ends too soon with three songs written by Knewtson. “Your Love” is illustrated with wedding photos of her and husband Richard and members of the cast, and is followed by “Thanks For Just Being You Today” and “America Is.”

TICKETS FOR the dessert theater production are available at Sophisticated Rose in downtown Iola. Prices are $15 for adults, $10 for students.
Doors open for evening performances Saturday and Nov. 6 and 7 at 6:30, with dessert served at 7 o’clock and the show at 7:30. Doors opens for matinees Sunday and Nov. 8 at 1 o’clock, with dessert at 1:30 and the show at 2.