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Play brings D-Day experience to life

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By John Barnhart

Bedford’s Little Town Players hosted The Waynesboro Players in a performance of Tuesday Mourning. The musical, written by the late Duane Hahn, portrays Bedford’s experience on D-Day.

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    The musical was first performed in Waynesboro in late 2009. Hahn had wanted to eventually bring the play to Bedford. Then, Hahn died unexpectedly early this year.
    As  a  tribute  to him, the Waynesboro players decided to produce the play again, with the final performance taking place in Bedford. Locally, Nancy Johnson and Karen Hopkins of Little Town Players coordinated the local performance, which took place Sunday night. They sold 150 of the 200 available seats.
    This was a benefit performance with all proceeds going to the National D-Day Memorial, with four area businesses picking up the costs so that all the money from the ticket sales went to the Memorial.
    Most of the cast is young and, for many of them, the roles they played were more than parts in a play. They were portraying real people and this was an emotional experience.
    The cast assembled at the National D-Day Memorial for a photo shoot and, afterward, Storm Burkes found Ray Stevens’ name on one of the bronze plaques circling Victory Plaza. The plaques list all Allied soldiers killed on D-Day. Burks, a music education major at James Madison University, photographed the plaque with his cell phone camera.
    “It’s almost like I know him,” Burks commented.
    In preparation for their roles, all of the cast had watched the documentary “Bedford: The Town They Left Behind.” In addition, Dustin Roadcap, who portrayed Ray Nance, read “The Bedford Boys.”
    “It’s quite an honor to be doing this,” commented Roadcap.
    It was an emotional experience for him and he had tears in his eyes after meeting Alpha Nance, Ray Nance’s widow, at the play’s end. Nance was among the invited guests at the play.
    “It was amazing, probably the most special part of this whole experience,” he commented.
    Marlene Stevens Debo was in the paying audience. Ray and Roy Stevens were her uncles and she has childhood memories of them. She said that the two actors who portrayed them made her think of the two brothers. The way her uncles were portrayed is how she remembered them behaving as young men.
    All the young men wore vintage World War II uniforms provided by Jim Belcher, of Waynesboro. They also wore them correctly and maintained military bearing while wearing them, thanks to coaching Belcher provided.
    Female members of the cast also wore vintage early 1940s clothes which they rather liked, noting that they were figure-flattering styles. Their hair styles and lipstick were also true to the era.
    Little Town Players dedicated the local performance in memory of Jim Melton, a Bedford area businessman who passed away last month.