Yank!, New Musical About World War II, When Life in the Military Was Gay, Plays NYMF Sept. 14-21

News   Yank!, New Musical About World War II, When Life in the Military Was Gay, Plays NYMF Sept. 14-21
 
Yank!, a new musical about being gay in the military during World War II, bows in the New York Musical Theatre Festival Sept. 14-21 in midtown Manhattan.

The company at the Beckett Theatre in Theatre Row will feature Broadway and New York musical veterans including Ken Alan (Fosse), Jeffrey J. Bateman (Peter Pan), Jeffry Denman (The Producers), Joey Dudding (la Cage aux Folles), Julie Foldesi (Little Women), Ivan Hernanadez (San Francisco's The Mambo Kings), Daniel Frank Kelley (Footloose), Doug Kreeger (Off-Broadway's Thrill Me), James Patterson (Beauty and the Beast) and Tally Sessions (The Joys of Sex).

The musical with book and lyrics by David Zellnik and music by Joseph Zellnik was selected as one of the "Next Link" shows in NYMF — chosen by a distinguished panel for placement in the festival.

Directed by Igor Goldin, Yank! "is a World War II buddy movie-of-a-musical — a love song both to the Hollywood 'it takes one of every kind' platoon flicks as well as the lyricism of 1940s Broadway. It tells the story of Stu, a war reporter, and Mitch, an army private, who fall in love in Basic Training and then meet again when Stu is on assignment reporting on Mitch's outfit."

The score offers songs in a range of 1940s-era genres — swing, big band and boogie-woogie. According to production notes, "Yank! explores what stories get told in wartime, what gets remembered, and how WWII became the great catalyst in bringing gay men and women together."

Character names include Sarge, Professor, Tennessee, Rotelli, Artie, Mitch, Czechowski, Stu and Dream Stu, among others. Julie Foldesi plays multiple roles (she's billed as The Women). Choreography is by Chase Brock and musical direction is by Rob Berman (Wonderful Town). The design team for Yank! includes Ray Klausen (set consultant), Wade Laboissoniere (costume design) and Ken Lapham (lighting design).

In June 2005, Yank! had its world premiere at the Third Annual Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival.

The show gets its title from Yank Magazine, "which grew to become the most widely read and most popular magazine in the history of the U.S. Army," according to production notes. "By the end of World War II, 23 varying editions of Yank Magazine had been published. At the height of the magazine's operations, there were editions in Honolulu, Cairo, Tokyo, Okinawa, Rome, Trinidad, Saipan and other places, and the weekly achieved a worldwide circulation of 2,600,000. It is thought to have been read by 10 million. The magazine, which was staffed entirely by enlisted soldiers, printed its last issue in December 1945, realizing for the War Department a profit of $1,000,000."

Most recently, David and Joseph Zellnik adapted Arthur Giron's "Flight," creating the musical The Wright Brothers: First in Flight for TheaterworksUSA. Their musical City of Dreams was performed in New York at the 2002 Midtown International Theatre Festival as well as in Cardiff, Wales as part of the first International Music Theatre Festival. City of Dreams won the National Music Theatre Network competition and was presented in 2003 at the Lamb's Theatre with Raul Esparza, Nancy Anderson and Alison Fraser.

David Zellnik is the author of numerous plays including Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom, which has been seen in productions and readings across the US and the U.K. His latest play, Ariel Sharon Stands at the Temple Mount and Dreams of Theodor Herzl, had a staged reading at the Chautauqau Theatre Institute this summer. Other plays include Kidnapping Kipling, Killing Hand, Sunday Paper, A Litany of Sorrows, Participatory Democracy and Prodigal Son.

Joseph Zellnik was a member of the The BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop 1992-1996, the Nautilus Workshop at New Dramatists, the Songbook Series at the Donnell Library, and he was the recipient of a Mary Duke Biddle Composition Scholarship at Duke University, the 1991 Henry Schumann Award for Composition and a 1990 Rosetti Arts Grant. His first mystery novel (written in collaboration with his sister) will be released in October 2005 by Llewellyn Press and he is currently at work on the second.

Theatre Row is at 410 W. 42nd Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.

The performance schedule is Sept. 14 at 8 PM, Sept. 16 at 8 PM, Sept. 17 at 1 PM, Sept. 18 at 1 PM and 4:30 PM, Sept. 21 at 4:30 PM and 8 PM. Tickets are $15 each and are now available at www.nymf.org or by calling (212) 352-3101.

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