The attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - launched a mass enlistment of the American men into the armed services. Upon their deployment, an unprecedented number of women mobilized into an enormous labor force focused on and dedicated to the war effort.
American Mother Lode is a two-act swing jazz musical created in honor of the women of World War II. The key players in this story are six women: three Navy WAVES and three shipyard welders. In contrast and comparison with the supporting male cast, these strong archetypes represent the larger female demographic of that period. With the ratification of the 19th Amendment of the US Constitution on August 18th, 1920, women were granted the right to vote, and to that end and perhaps without realizing it, the World War II female work force catapulted the Women's Rights Movement into the future.
The storyline spans 1941 to 1948 and signifies both the progress and the struggle women experienced culturally, socio-economically, and historically. The three Navy WAVES officers are affluent, privileged college graduates and their co-stars are industry trained, certified welders. Though they each hail from various regions of the country and different cultural backgrounds and social strata, the women forge an endearing friendship that chips away at long-standing class divisions, and pulls gender equality under the magnifying glass. These sensitive, polarizing concepts are lyrically addressed in several musical numbers, including âThe Admiralâs Daughter,â âI Love a Stranger,â âI Speak Woman, You Speak Man,â âWe Donât Need No Dames Here,â and âWomanâs Work.â
Meet the Navy WAVES: Officer Margaret Benning is the lovely and confident Bostonian daughter of a prominent, retired Navy Admiral who disparages her courageous break with conventions including her marriage to a Southern U.S. Army Captain. Officer Evelyn Reynolds is the bold, sophisticated debutant from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She exudes the charm of Vivian Lee and the sass of Mae West rolled into one. Officer Deloris Doyleâaka âDelââ is the brainy, book-smart native of New York. She may have been the sure-footed college valedictorian, but sheâs admittedly awkward in the social scene.
Meet the Women Welders: Wanda Schimanski is the daughter of Polish immigrants, the wife of her childhood sweetheart, and the mother of their two daughters. Her impeccable work ethic and enthusiasm burst forth in the showstopper, namesake number âWanda the Welder!â Marnie McNally is the spunky dancing-darling whose ultimate wish is to settle down and get married, but in the meantime, sheâs a pistol with a welding torch. Lavonne Peyton is the loyal go-to gal and the glue that holds them all together as she waits faithfully for her husbandâs return from war. From the opening curtain to the last note played, we laugh out loud with our war-worker girlfriends, but we also cry with them.
Fiction created from history, AMERICAN MOTHER LODE is a soundtrack of World War II in celebration of the 1940âs big-band swing and jazz-pop culture. With jitterbug crowd teasers like âSoldier Boy Christmasâ or âCarry Me Away,â the AMERICAN MOTHER LODE musical encapsulates that romantic golden era, beckons the coming baby-boom period, and foreshadows the ever-increasing plea for equality to all generations, tying the past to the present to the future.