Amana – There isn’t much I remember about World War II, though I had one uncle in Europe and another in the Pacific and my mother would occasionally let me overhear her and her sisters expressing concern for their safety. But I am just old enough to remember V-J Day, bringing WWII to its conclusion. My home town was very small so there was no parade, no marching band or, so far as I know, no patriotic speeches. But there were sirens blowing, people hugging each other, and everyone seemed very happy.
Waiting for the Parade is the fourth play in the Old Creamery’s Studio series about war, following Billy Bishop Goes to War, Churchill, and Heroes. If you didn’t see Churchill earlier this season, it will return October 1-4 giving Creamery audiences another chance to enjoy a look at the famous soldier, politician, author, and wit. But I digress–back to the current play by John Murrell which runs August 20-September 6.
Unquestionably there is heroism on the battlefield and in the air providing material for a host of novels, plays, stories, and films about men at war. Here in the United States and in countries around the world there are (largely untold) stories about the activities of women in wartime. Waiting for the Parade tells the stories of five women who share their fears and their actions with us. They are not so much stereotypes as icons. The five women are a young wife and mother (Adeline Feldman-Schultz), a teacher (Katie Colletta) who is married to an older man , a woman (Marije Reiff) who throws herself into activity after activity to make up for the fact that her husband is not a soldier , a mother (Marquetta Senters) who is afraid of losing her grown sons, and a woman (Jackie McCall) who came to the U.S. from Germany at age nine and retains a love of German music but resents her father’s Nazi sympathies.
Everyone in the company deserves praise for her performance, but two performances stand out for me (probably because I’ve seen each actress in several different roles). One is Marquetta Senters who knows just how and when to share with us her vulnerability as a mother and as a woman who dreads and suffers inevitable loneliness. The second is Jackie McCall’s sophisticated German émigré never fully accepted and always suspect because of her origin and culture. Everything about her character works, just the right trace of German in her speech, just the right suggestion of a more sophisticated taste than the others.
The five women reveal themselves and their disparate stories and situations in small doses and with varying degrees of subtlety but the cumulative effect is quite wonderful. Director Janeve West allows her talented cast freedom to find the core and the particulars of their characters but guides them into a remarkable company giving clear evidence of trust in her direction and in each other.
For fine acting, for skilled direction, for economy of presentation to convincing effect (even the stage hands are in military uniform), this is a Parade you won’t want to miss.