Galatean Players Ensemble Theatre
Directed by Kathryn C. McCarty
Book and Lyrics: Kathryn C. McCarty
Musical Score by Mitchell Covington
Music Direction: Peter Maleitzke
Choreography: Renae Klein

History must be written of, by and for the survivors.

People alive during World War II still call it THE war. All the other conflicts following it were nothing but skirmishes compared to the immense mobilization of this country to fight a trio of enemies that dared to threaten our sovereignty. The loyalty of every citizen to the support the cause and their eagerness to become part of the fight for a common cause that is almost unprecedented in human history. “There is no substitute for victory,” said General Douglas MacArthur and Americans refused to accept any less for themselves and for their country.

Many events change history, but World War II called on all its citizens to forget (if only for the duration) their racial biases. It was essential that all of us, white, black or brown unite against the forces that threatened to destroy us. Indeed it was a war that forced our nation to change its fundamental vision of women, race and what it meant to be American. “When the war is over, things will go back to normal” say the characters again and again, but they are wrong. Things never returned to the way they were. In the years since that war ended, our prejudices eased; women infiltrated the work force more and more on an equal level with men; races intermarried and all of us learned that to be different is not to be wrong.

World War II mobilized Americans to work together as never before to defeat the enemy, to willingly sacrifice what once were necessities for the war effort. Every able-bodied man enlisted in the armed forces and many women did as well. I still remember 15 and 16 year olds, encouraged by their parents to lie about their age to they could fight. Those left at home became the dedicated “home front soldiers” we see on stage in RIVETS. Children knit sweaters and quilts for the men overseas, the entire nation rolled bandages, gave blood and recycled rubber, metal, tin, nylon, silk and newspapers. Civilians invited soldiers into their homes for home-cooked meals, worked at the Red Cross and the USO and patrolled the streets during air raid alarms. It was a unifying time, a time when we all were determined to work together to win the war.

RIVETS celebrates the men who couldn’t fight on the battlefield because of age or physical infirmity and the millions of women who left their kitchens to work in war factories so that our troops would have enough ammunition and supplies to fight the enemy. The show is billed as “a musical celebration of Rosie the Riveter and the Home front Soldiers of World War II” and indeed it brings the era to vivid life. Women in the lower income brackets have always been part of the American workforce, but the traditional image of the middle classes was that women’s place was in the home. World War II and its sweeping call to be part of the defense effort changed that picture and gave women a taste of what it was to be part of something greater than themselves and their families. The government launched a campaign to lure these women into factories by creating a fictional character they called “Rosie the Riveter.” The campaign worked beyond their wildest expectations and over 18 million women were part of the workforce by the end of the war. 1942-1944 was an emotionally charged time to live in this country. Women were learning how to balance feminity with their country’s needs and every song in this production reflects their determination.
We hear radio announcements typical of the times done with humor and authenticity by Don Tamblyn with his sound assistant Asuka Anderson. Rachel Ferensowicz is Evelyn Mitchell, the young lady who is determined to defy the feminine stereotype and become a hard-hitting reporter, instead of feminine plaything. Her verbal battles with Mr. Walker (Gabriel Cohen) reflect anger women still feel when they are demeaned because of their sex.
Montá Blair gives a memorable performance as Mrs. Tilney Blair who fights for equal pay for black and whites. She is a realist who fears her daughter Biddie (Angel Reyes) will suffer social rejection if she marries her blind boyfriend Henry Biondi (Eric Jepsen). Monica Lenk is Evelyn’s sister so in love with Robert Lampley (Nate Smith) that she enlists in the WAACS and marries him before he is shipped overseas. Although the scenes we see on stage are fiction, they are based on real events of the time. The costumes are vintage forties with the short skirts, the penciled seams to simulate nylons on the girls’ legs, the hats, and the scarves the “rosies” wore to protect their hair from the machinery they ran. The mood of the piece is reinforced by its setting: The audience sits in the hold of the SS Red Oak Victory, the very ship the characters in the play are building.
This production is an energetic, emotionally charged musical event about a memorable and exciting time in American history, with stirring original music by Mitchell Covington, directed with true vision by Kathryn G. McCarty, who also authored the script and lyrics. It is an ensemble piece and although every character has his moment to shine, the overall effect is a group presentation exploring the themes of love, loyalty and discrimination that defined the era. The pace is perfect; the energy never flags and every character IS the person he portrays on stage. “We must remember that our future is built upon the foundation of our past,” said McCarty. “We must keep the flame of World War II bright and build our futures on the knowledge of the dangers of war, and the powers of madmen.”

Indeed, if we are to appreciate where we are today, we need to understand what we once were and RIVETS with its cast of over thirty dedicated and talented performers paints a moving and accurate picture of a time we will never forget
Never in the field of human conflict
was so much owed by so many to so few.
Winston Churchill

Where: Onboard the SS Red Oak Victory
1337 Canal Blvd, Berth 6A
Richmond, CA 94804

When: Until October 24, 2010
Friday & Saturday evenings @ 8:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday matinees @ 3:00 p.m.
Tickets: 925 676 5705