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Posts Tagged ‘Allan Berube’

This musical is set in the Second World War, amongst American conscripts in training in Texas and then at the front in the Pacific. Yank! is the title of the military newspaper, part of the effort to keep up morale. The twist in Joseph & David Zellnik’s show is that it’s a gay love story.

Young and naive Stu is at first the butt of jokes in his Company, but is eventually accepted, partly thanks to his protector Mitch. There is an attraction between him and Mitch, and a brief dalliance, but the latter won’t accept his sexuality. Stu is befriended by Yank! gay photographer Artie who gets him a job as his accompanying reporter and introduces him to a thriving but clandestine gay world in the military, but he’s obsessed with Mitch and hatches a plan to visit and report on his old Company. The relationship is briefly rekindled, though Mitch is still uncomfortable. They are seen embracing by a colleague, which risks exposure and seemingly impossible choices.

The score is excellent, but somewhat old-fashioned, and the first half seemed a bit like a gay South Pacific. Then I realised that the style suits the period, and changes as the story gets much deeper in the second half, when it really drew me in and engaged me emotionally. Given that it was inspired by Allan Berube’s book Coming Out Under Fire, I liked the framing of a narrator finding Stu’a journal in a junk shop. James Baker’s staging is hugely impressive, with excellent choreography by Chris Cuming. The musical standards under MD James Cleeve are very high indeed. Scott Hunter and Andy Coxon are both excellent as Stu and Mitch respectively and Sarah-Louise Young is terrific in all the female roles, so many I lost count. What I liked most about the fine ensemble was their complete believability as a company of soldiers of all shapes, sizes and looks.

A lovely show which fits Charing Cross Theatre perfectly. You should go.

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