Cliff Wallgren, WSU
Shannon Musgrave, Jolene Zito, Nikki Nixon and Julie Silvestro Waite in "Waiting for the Parade."
WAITING FOR THE PARADE, through Saturday, Weber State University Performing Arts (800-WSU-TIKS or, running time: 2 hours (one intermission)

As we sit in the Eccles Theater waiting for "Waiting for the Parade," we listen to music of the 1940s, songs such as "On a Wing and Prayer" and "Sentimental Journey." On the backdrop is a photo of a newsboy carrying a Canadian newspaper with a headline about the beginning of the Second World War.

Tonight, the only men's faces we'll see on this stage will be on the backdrop. We won't hear one male voice, except secondhand, in an interpretation of his story by the woman who knows him best.

The photos of Canadian men at war look very much like the photos of the U.S. troops from that era. The experiences of the women who were left behind must surely have been similar as well.

John Murell's script takes us back more than 60 years and makes us rethink what the homefront was like. "Waiting for the Parade" is a series of conversations and monologues in which five female characters reveal the details of their lives.

It's part drama and part comedy. Black comedy.

The Weber State University department of performing arts production is a nice one, better than one might expect from college theater. Directed by Tracy Callahan, with costumes by Catherine Zublin and scenic design by Clayton David Gerrard, it features good acting and singing.

Shannon Musgrave plays a young mother whose husband neglected to tell her he was thinking of enlisting until he'd done it. Nikki Nixon is a young schoolteacher, married to a man too old to fight. She's half sick with worry about the boys in her classes, who keep lying about their age and leaving for the front.

Stephanie Purcell is Marta, a young Canadian citizen who emigrated from Germany when she was 9. Marta is trying to keep the family business alive without her father, who has been sent to an internment camp. Purcell's accent never wavers.

Jolene Zito plays an older mother of two sons, who keeps predicting she won't see them again in this world. But negative though she is, she is a welcome companion in comparison to the character played by Julie Silvestro Waite, a woman so relentlessly upbeat that she enrages her fellow Red Cross volunteers.

In this production, the theater is small and the actors project well, and there is no need for little head microphones. This feature is one of several that make "Waiting for the Parade" refreshing.

Sensitivity rating: Some swearing. One character talks of making love, but the conversation is not terribly detailed.

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