A PIECE OF MY HEART at Union Avenue Christian Church
West End Player’s Guild Season 110 Continues With A Powerful Presentation By Shirley Lauro A piece of my heart. Set during the Vietnam War and told from the perspective of six women, whose search for something bigger takes them to the front lines, and the emotional trauma of coming home.
Filled with pathos and heavy drama, A piece of my heart is a gritty and often uncomfortable portrayal of what the more than 11,000 women stationed in Vietnam faced as they nursed, comforted and entertained the troops.
Acting as a microcosm for the thousands of women who have served, A piece of my heart tells the stories of six such women, each of whom is committed to seeking adventure or serving her country only to find they have landed in a nightmare.
The girls come from very diverse backgrounds. MaryJo is a singer of the Sugar Candies All Girl Band whose dubious agent has booked her a concert to entertain the troops. Sissy is a girl from next door to Eerie, PA, who is looking to find herself. Martha is an army kid who seeks to follow in her mother’s footsteps, a nurse during World War II. ‘
Steele, an African-American intelligence officer looking for an opportunity to advance her career, and Whitney, a brilliant college graduate hoping to find her calling, also discover that Vietnam is not the job they expected. . the most ironic member of the group is LeAnn, a half-Chinese, half-Italian anti-war hippie who mistakenly thinks she will serve in Hawaii, only to find herself in the Southeast Asian home.
Throughout the two tension-filled acts, the production stars these six brave women who fend for themselves. Upon arrival in Vietnam, they immediately face life in a combat zone. Unprepared for the sweltering heat and the barrage of yard work, women quickly learn that the Vietnam War is a dirty business. Unaccustomed to seeing corpses, wounded amputees and combat-weary soldiers, they each undergo a personal transformation as they adapt and survive.
Under-trained, unrecognized and under fire from critics, every woman fights for respect and survival. During their one-year post, they treat the wounded, keep troops spirited high, and, for Steele, gather vital enemy intelligence.
Despite their achievements, women face sexism, racism and rape amid the horrors of war. Without being discouraged, their strength and determination are put to the test daily, especially during the Tet offensive, when hospitals are overrun with thousands of wounded.
Finally, after enduring twelve agonizing months, the women are relieved to return home. However, their optimism is short-lived as they quickly become disillusioned. Enduring fractured relationships, despite the anti-war movement, discrimination in the workplace and the long-term effects of exposure to Agent Orange, their return to civilian life is just as difficult as their period of service. . Frustrated, angry and betrayed, women use therapy as a way to heal from their collective experiences and reflect on the war they survived.
On stage, this well-performed production features a collection of incredible actors including Mara Bollini, Chelsie Johnston, Madison Jackson, Annalize Webb, Vicky Chen, Patience Davis and Shane Signorino.
Assuming the role of every male character, Signorino dazzles as he juggles multiple parties, including soldiers, officers, and civilians. Davis is excellent at Steele, a woman whose hard
her demeanor hides a quivering rage as she struggles to gain acceptance of her abilities. Newcomer Madison Jackson is excellent as the naive Sissy, a woman whose experience in ‘Nam brings disease, pain, and a deep spiritual awakening. Chelsie Johnston, whose MaryJo is weighed down by melancholy and lost innocence, gives the show a musical heartbeat.
Explore themes of hope, community, bravery, loss, PTSD and emotional fatigue, A piece of my heart is marked by the unveiling of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, which brings their tragedies to a charged and complete conclusion.
Taking the broken promises and fierce brutality of the Vietnam War, convincing it A piece of my heart is a superlative presentation. Director Dani Mann has put on a divisive work that lingers with audiences long after they leave their seats.
A piece of my heart runs through December 19 at the Union Avenue Christian Church Theater. For tickets and more information visit www.WestEndPlayers.org