The Pin-Up Girls – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Forget emails, texts and cell phone calls. Hand written letters are still the epitome of communication. What better time to take out pen and paper than to write to our service men and women who are thousands of miles away, in foreign lands defending our freedoms at the risk of their own lives? Encouraging the troops, raising their spirits as they do their patriotic best, is the musical tribute that composers James Hindman and Jeffrey Lodin undertake when they fashioned a loving salute in “The Pin-Up Girls” bopping into Playhouse on Park in West Hartford until Saturday, December 23 and you are invited for a seat up front for the tuneful action for the show’s New England premiere. This musical love letter will surely tug at your heartstrings as our veterans receive a well deserved thank you for all their sacrifices.

Dating all the way back to World War I and spanning the years to the conflict in Afghanistan, these composers have taken the real letters written to our troops and back home again to their families and covered the conflicts they endured. All branches of the military will have their words and sentiments revealed starting with the mailman’s favorite tune “Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.” With the delightful help of Hillary Ekwall, Olivia Fenton, Maggie Keene and Christopher Rhodes, you will be taken on a journey of discovery. This music and dance fest is merrily directed and choreographed by Darlene Zoller, with music direction by a spirited Kevin Barlowski.

Other favorites include “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Mr. Postman,” “Boogie, Woogie, Bugle Boy,” and a great Christmas medley of holiday faves, with special appearances by the likes of a Bob Hope, Dean Martin, and Judy Garland. The lobby includes a whole history of the VFW posts, with letters and photos to illuminate the times. You are also invited to pen your own missive to a soldier, as part of Operation Gratitude.

For tickets ($45-55), call the Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ext. 10, or online at Performances are 2 p.m. Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday with a talk back after the Sunday matinee. A special author presentation from Lisa Franco will take place on Saturday, December 16 after the 2 p.m. matinee when Lisa will read from “My Dearest Darling.” This is a collection of letters written in World War II by naval officer Donald Storey to his sweetheart Margery.

Watch for the Weird and Wonderful World of Industrial Musicals hosted by Steve Young on Sunday and Monday, December 10 and 11.

Learn first hand how important writing letters were as intimate connections and communication across thousands of miles of separation, to counter the loneliness of those times.