Waxahachie Senior Center members and guests were treated to a performance of Angel Corps, a musical based on true stories of World War II Army nurses Wednesday morning.
The play was presented by Legacy Performing Arts productions of New York, founded by Robin Benson, daughter of Waxahachie High School choir director, Gail Harrell. The production company is on a weeklong Texas tour including stops at senior centers in Dallas and Garland as well as Richland College and Mount Vernon Historical Society.
An olive-drab makeshift tent, displaying an American flag, served as the set for the three member, all female cast. The actors, dressed in green fatigues and camouflage military helmets, took on the personas of World War II Army nurses in the musical production. Musical numbers from the 1940s were punctuated with authentic narrative from the lives and experiences of the nurses.
“Some of the material came from letters or from books and magazines. I created the stories from real life stories that happened to these nurses,” Benson said.
The narrative ranged from humorous to poignant, telling of the difficult conditions the nurses endured as well as some fun times and the camaraderie among the women.
Cast members Gretchen Mundinger, Krista Severeid and Benson sang and danced their way into the hearts of the audience, which was generous with their laughter and applause. The seniors gave the cast a grateful standing ovation at the end of the 45-minute show.
Benson founded the production company in 2007. It was a task she feels she was called to do by God.
“I was feeling sorry for myself in my 20s – lonely and feeling like I didn’t have any friends. A voice said, ‘You’re not lonely. There are seniors who are lonely and you can help them,’ ” Benson said.
She said in New York there are so many actors out of work, not getting the chance to perform and the project could create opportunities.
“I was volunteering at senior centers and saw so many seniors that weren’t experiencing artistic activities. I wanted to do what I do and bring theater to them,” she said. “I wanted to bring this tour to where I’m from and wanted my grandparents to see it.”
Benson said she is from Oak Cliff and her mother has lived in Waxahachie since 1995.
“Last summer we did a children’s show I wrote with my mom called ‘Boudreaux the Lake Dog,’ which was performed by the Ellis County Children’s Theater,” Benson said.
Angel Corps is the third production by Legacy Performing Arts productions. The first show was a celebration of the golden age of musical theater titled “Class!” The company also produced a musical about Bella Abzug the famous congresswoman called “Bella – the Musical.”
The troupe’s next stop is Saturday in Mount Vernon.
Jeanee Smiles, senior center director, said she was thrilled to have the production for the seniors and pleased at their response to the performance.
“Robin has had this in the works before I got here. We are really exited to have them,” Smiles said.
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