American Classics’ revue, YIP! YIP! YAPHANK (Irving Berlin’s World War I Soldier Show) pulls out all the stops.
became a citizen, became famous for
his popular songs, got drafted into the Army and convinced the Brass he’d be
more useful writing them a show. Everyone, not just the doughboys, knows Oh,
How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning (Someday I’m going to murder the
bugler…) The American Classics’ combo, led by Joe Della Penna, included drums
(Dean Groves), and of course, a bugler (Jason Huffman)! Berlin
Since 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the “War to End All Wars” you’ll be seeing a lot of historical footage but American Classics’ effort, for my vote, hits just the right notes. It seemed like a cast of thousands (really only 17) but they packed the Longy Stage in Cambridge with precision marching, not to mention an impressive precision tambourine drill from one of Berlin’s Minstrel Shows.
Just like the boys at boot camp (near Yaphank in Long Island) donned wigs and pearls, the American Classics ensemble dressed up as the famous Floradora Girls, led by AC founder Brad Conner as Ethan Sagin’s sweetie in Sterling Silver Moon. Ben Sears kicked off the bittersweet songs
wrote to buck up his fellow
infantrymen, with the charming Smile and Show Your Dimple (Light your face
up and brace up). Berlin
Narrated by Peter A. Carey, AC found delightful parodies and more than a few show stopping sentimental songs like Joel Edwards’ gorgeous (Dream on, Little) Soldier Boy, sung with a humming chorus. If Brian DeLorenzo’s letter home to mother, (I Can Always Find a Little Sunshine in) The YMCA, didn’t already have us in tears, the barbershop harmony sold it, sliding into a heart-wrenching finish. Then the soldier boys trooped off the stage with the sobering We’re On Our Way to France. They returned for an encore of the original 1918 version (two decades before Kate Smith’s smash hit) of God Bless America, written to a slightly different tune. For an hour or so, you felt hopeful for a world dedicated to peace and prosperity.