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Audiences asked to be ‘the boys’ at ‘GI Holiday Jukebox’

From left, members of Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, Callie McKinney Cabe, Kurt Raimer, Laura Sable and Mike Cotter, sing songs from “GI Holiday Jukebox,” set to debut Friday at the Resort Theatre. (Kathy Plonka)
From left, members of Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, Callie McKinney Cabe, Kurt Raimer, Laura Sable and Mike Cotter, sing songs from “GI Holiday Jukebox,” set to debut Friday at the Resort Theatre. (Kathy Plonka)

At the “GI Holiday Jukebox,” four singers will play the roles of USO performers, doing one last big show for “the boys” before they head off to the European front.

Your role, as members of the audience? Pretend to be “the boys.”

Don’t worry, you won’t have to wear fatigues. All you have to do is sit there and enjoy 40 World War II-era songs such as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree.”

And also “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.” This is, after all, a holiday USO show.

The Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre is accustomed to producing big summer runs, but this will be its biggest winter production ever, at least by sheer number of performances: 21.

The theater has been doing a wintertime show for the past four years, but usually just two performances at its usual Schuler Auditorium venue.

Now, the show is moving into a new and cozy 200-seat venue, the Resort Theatre at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. The Resort remodeled the Shore Lounge just for this show and turned it into a theater, complete with raised platforms for better sightlines.

“It’s really cool,” said Roger Welch, the theater’s artistic director. “It feels very much like a Vegas showroom.”

Yet the show itself will have a Hope-Crosby-Andrews Sisters feel. It consists of many familiar songs from the era, many of them performed in medley. An onstage three-piece combo – piano, drums, bass – will accompany the vocal quartet.

The show is sprinkled with a number of classic Christmas songs, in keeping with the season. And since it’s a USO show, it will also have some comedy bits, including a re-creation of George Burns-Gracie Allen dialogue.

Welch first saw “GI Holiday Jukebox” when he went on vacation on the Mississippi Queen, a paddlewheeler cruising between New Orleans and St. Louis.

“I thought, ‘This would be great to do at the theater,’ ” he said.

Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath put an end to the Mississippi Queen, but this show owes plenty to the grand old paddlewheeler.

“The four performers in this show have all done the show on the Mississippi Queen,” said Welch. “This is a reunion for them.”

All four are also veterans of the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre: Kurt Raimer, Callie McKinney Cabe, Laura Sable and Mark Cotter.

Welch is the director and Carolyn Jess is the music director.



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