“1941 Christmas From Home” is a holiday show, but it’s so much more than that, said director Karlyn Love, Oregon City High School drama teacher.

by: PHOTO BY KARMIN TOMLINSON - Looking charming in period dresses are Jenika Flynn and Tabitha Damm.  “It is not just about Christmas. It is a trip back in time, and it shows how we’ve changed and how we’ve stayed the same.”

by: PHOTO BY KARMIN TOMLINSON - From left, Sam Babst, Matt Devlin and Stefan Previs, in elf hats, sing a humorous song. The show opens Dec. 11 and continues through Dec. 14 at the high school. The setting is Christmas 1941, and while World War II plays out overseas, back home in Portland a radio station is recording a special live broadcast for the soldiers who are away from home for the holidays.

As the play progresses, the audience gets to watch a group of singers, dancers and actors perform this special radio play, but they also are part of the show, Love said.

Audience members will be asked to dance in the aisles during some numbers, and at the very end of the show will join the cast singing “Silent Night.”

Although the show is set in 1941, the message still resonates today: We must support our troops overseas.

“At heart we are still the same. At the end of the show it is about peace, and the hope that the war will end quickly and we will all be together again,” Love said.

There is variety in the production, she said, noting that “within the first 10 to 15 minutes the audience will see a play within a play, hear an ad, a jingle and a Christmas song. It is so much fun and it just moves. There is always something new happening.”

Singing, dancing, bananas

“One minute the show is so patriotic and the next moment we are laughing and singing about Chiquita bananas or Spam,” said Sam Babst, one of the performers.

Junior Blaine Holbert plays Alfred Bell, the announcer and owner of the radio show, who has a “professional voice” when he is on the air, but there are moments when his real voice comes out as he talks to his employees.

“He brings the resident lovebirds, Jack and Evelyn, up on stage, and he asks them to share the story of how they met. He’s standing there looking so proud,” Holbert said.

Two OCHS graduates, Hannah Harlon, 18, and Joel Anderson, 18, have returned to help Love with the show; Harlon as assistant director and Anderson as stage manager.

Harlon said students were asked to interview elderly people to get their memories of that time period as a way for students to understand the time period.

But in the end, “this show is for people to connect with the troops that did serve and are still serving,” she said,

Many of the actors play multiple roles, and Anderson noted that the use of props and costumes helped the actors individualize their characters. He also emphasized the importance of the band, which sits onstage, in full view of the audience.

“We have 32 actors and seven band members on stage. My favorite scene is one of the dance breaks, “You’re a Lucky Guy,” and I must give credit to the band,” he said.

Local author

Love said she knew she wanted to do a holiday-themed show for her first production this year, and a big plus for her is that it was written by

local playwright Pat Kruis Tellinghusen.

“Research was absolutely delightful for this play,” Kruis Tellinghusen said, adding that she “had a blast” looking through newspaper and magazine stories from that time period, seeing ads listing cigarettes as a health aid and Listerine as a cure for dandruff.

“1941 Christmas From Home,” is the first in a series of five plays, one for each of the war years.

“It is fascinating to see the role of women blossom from 1941, shortly after Pearl Harbor, to 1942, Rosie the Riveter, on through to wearing pants in 1945,” Kruis Tellinghusen said.

She also sat down and talked with anyone and everyone she could about their experiences in the war years: soldiers, sailors, Marines, pilots and ski troopers, and people who served and sacrificed on the home front.

“Their stories run the gamut of human emotion — laughter, sorrow, pride, fear. What an honor to hear and retell their stories,” she said. Kruis Tellinghusen moved to Portland 30 years ago to take a job as a news reporter for KGW-TV, where she reported for 14 years. She lives in Portland with her husband and two teenage children, and is now focusing most of her energy into writing plays.

When she met with the OCHS cast last October, one of the cast members told her that doing this play had given him a greater appreciation for the veterans who fought the war.

‘1941 Christmas From Home’

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 through 14

Where: OCHS Auditorium, 19761 S. Beavercreek Road, Oregon City

Details: Tickets are $9, and are available at the door only. Call 503-785- 8980 for more information, or visit

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