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Contact: Robert Buseick, Marjorie Lyons Playhouse, 318-869-5242, or
Lynn Stewart, Centenary News Service, 318-869-5120

Centenary's Marjorie Lyons Playhouse to Present Verna: USO Girl beginning March 25

SHREVEPORT, LA — Set amid the battles and fury of World War II, Verna: USO Girl, a new play with music, will open at the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse on the Centenary College campus at 8 p.m. March 25.

Originally a television production for PBS’ Great Performances, Verna: USO Girl, is based on the novel by Paul Gallico and the screenplay written by Albert Innaurato. It is being adapted for the stage and directed by, Patric McWilliams. The story follows Verna Vane, a small town girl with huge hopes for becoming a star. However, her dreams are far bigger than her talents.

After being accepted for a USO Tour, the result of being the only one who auditioned, Verna finds herself in World War II Belgium moving from Army camp to Army camp. Eventually, she captures the heart of a soldier and their love affair unfolds against the American troops facing down one of the century’s greatest threats. The USO show that the small troupe is performing, is filled with some of the most beloved songs of that period: “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “Where or When,” “You'll Never Know,” “The Nearness of You,” “Those Little White Lies” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Sarah Smith will appear as Verna. She most recently was seen in The Laramie Project and has had featured roles in Women Behind Bars, Tell Me that You Love Me, Junie Moon, and The shape of Things, for which she received a Memory Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Play.

Seva May will be seen as Maureen, a coolly elegant chanteuse who befriends Verna on the tour. May is one of the area’s most respected actresses and has played Mame in Mame, Eva Peron in Evita, Velma Kelly in Chicago, Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, Charity in Sweet Charity and Abigail Adams in 1776. She was recently seen in MLP’s Noises Off.

Joshua Porter will appear as Walter, the American soldier who falls for Verna. Porter has numerous credits which include: As Bees in Honey Drown, Electra, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Wit, Grand Hotel, The Wayside Motor Inn, Noises Off and The Shape of Things, which earned him a Memory Award nomination for Best Actor in a Play.

Jim Montgomery will play Eddie, a comedian who also serves as the tour’s director. Montgomery is a veteran of local theatre with major roles in Art, Gross Indecency, The Bat, Electra, Camelot, The Heiress, A Little Night Music, Peter Pan and, in his most recent appearance, as Ben Franklin in 1776.

Appearing in various roles as soldiers, nurses and administrators will be Jamie Norwood, Chris Farr, Adam Boyd, John Rabenhorst, Stephen Scarlato, Alex Heiber, Erin Broderick and Shannon Shea.

The sets and lights are being designed by Don Hooper, costumes designed by McWilliams, sound design by Mike Martindale and choreography by Jenny Mayo. Ashley Beckham will be the assistant director/stage manager.

Verna: USO Girl will play additional dates on March 26 and 27 and April 1, 2, 3 at 8 p.m. and a matinee April 4 at 2 p.m. The Box Office opens March 18 and is open each day from 12 to 4 p.m. Ticket reservations may be made by calling 318-869-5242.

Ticket prices are as follows: adults $15, senior citizens $13 and non-Centenary students $10. There will be a preview performance on March 24 at 7 p.m. with all tickets priced at $7.

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