This holiday season the Greenfield Lions Club will be offering an original Christmas musical drama and review, “A Night of Peace.”
To be performed in the McClain High School auditorium on Dec. 8 and 9, the show was inspired by two remarkable events, one in World War I and the other in World War II, when battlefield soldiers of the two sides put down their weapons on Christmas Eve to join in celebrating as best they could their common humanity on that holy night. Between the opening scenes and the finale, the show portrays the post-war energy and optimism of the Jazz Age leading into the collapse of the Great Depression and the build-up to the Second World War, where, once again, the common man would bear the suffering and sacrifices. In a small, snow-bound cabin in wintry war-torn France, American and German soldiers again find themselves together for a brief time, sharing a meal and their hope for peace.
Directed by Susan Long, “A Night of Peace” will feature music of the various periods, music expressing the hopes, concerns, yearnings and celebrations of a changing American culture. From the opening solo ballad that decries the struggles of a soldier’s life in the trenches of World War I, through the blending American and German renditions of “Silent Night,” and at the opening of each act in the drama, music carries the story along.
Both the Greenfield House Band, consisting of adults from the community and directed by David Weaks, and the McClain High School Jazz Band, helmed by Band Director Blayne Weddington, will perform tunes in the style of each era, from the boisterous Charleston as well as cheerful, jazzy versions of popular Christmas carols. As the drama continues, moving from the Roaring 20’s into the trials of the Great Depression, the music reflects the struggles of Americans trying to keep their spirits up.
The commencement of World War II pulled America out of the Depression but the cataclysm of war challenged musical artists to offer an energy, solace and pride to a nation struggling to contend. In addition to the bands, the Greenfield Community Choir, under the direction of Pam Fabin, and the McClain High School Show Choir, directed by Loretta Flora, will contribute to the presentation of the America of each period, with Christmas always the theme of hope in people’s hearts. Further, a number of solo performances will contribute to the experience.
As “A Night of Peace” unfolds, several characters step forward to offer reminiscences and reflections that carry the unique story of American grit and perseverance forward. A dance troupe, under the direction of Cindi Pearce, adds to the action with a Charleston number and, during the World War II era, an upbeat portrayal of the iconic Rosie the Riveter, which captures the energy and determination of American women to contribute to the war effort. This troupe consists of three generations, a charming ensemble whose lively act underscores the upbeat message of American can-do spirit.
“A Night of Peace” will be performed in the McClain High School Auditorium on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. and again on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door for $5 and include a souvenir program with thumbnail biographies of well-known entertainers of the time as well as pertinent historical notes. Further, the Lions Club will be selling a variety of Christmas candy with all proceeds going to its several public service activities.