Happy Songs About the War, a one-man musical developed by local singer-songwriter J.D. Boucharde, debuts May 25 at Compass Theatre (formerly 6th@Penn) in Hillcrest.
“It’s a dramatic, semi-fictional production,” says Boucharde, “using multimedia, monologues, humor, and 12 original songs to shed light on why we were told we went to war with Iraq, versus the real reasons behind the government’s $2 trillion parlor trick.”
The production began as a concept album before being reworked into a stage show with Leigh Scarritt and several other local theater mainstays. For each show during the two-week run, Boucharde plans to honor a different fallen soldier from the war.
“This is not a passive-nod type of honor,” he says. “The soldier actually becomes an integral part of the show. He’s made an honorary member of the audience, a spotlighted seat is reserved for him, and that night’s show is dedicated to him. The final scene brings the audience onto the battlefield with that particular young man.”
Boucharde sought families to lend their memories and photos of departed loved ones via the local chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and craigslist ads. The show’s format, however, precludes paying tribute to women in the military.
“While I’m fully aware that many female soldiers have died in the Iraq war,” he says, “I regret to say I can’t honor them in this way because I actually end up ‘becoming’ that person onstage in the final scene.”
At this writing, around 4000 Americans have died in the Iraq region since the war began. Around 29,000 U.S. personnel have been wounded. Happy Songs About the War runs through June 4.
– Jay Allen Sanford