Great War Chronicle
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Eric Chazankin

Great War Chronicle, now playing at 6th Street Playhouse, is a musical that marches to a very unique drum. The music and lyrics are written by musician and songwriter Glenn Siegel who refers to his production as a rock opera.

Indeed, it has many operatic qualities. It deals with the many joys and sorrows of life on the grand scale of World War I. Focusing primarily on the home front, most of the songs in act one are about families coping with life while their sons and husbands fight a war “in a hostile distant land.”

“Lonely, lonely, lonely is how I’ve come to be,” sings a wife (Zoe Siegel) whose husband has been away fighting the war for over a year. For “17 months I’ve been counting on you to come back alive,” she sings in another song. Yet when her soldier finally returns, they hesitate to embrace, singing one of the most powerful songs in the production: Tentative Dance Reunion. The trauma of the war has embraced them both and only time can eventually heal them so they can embrace each other.

Great War Chronicle is a powerful musical commentary on the many ways families are touched by war. It explores every facet of human emotion as only war can. Or as Ernest Hemingway aptly put it in Green Hills of Africa: “…what a great advantage an experience of war was to a writer. It was one of the major subjects and certainly one of the hardest to write truly of, and those writers who had not seen it were always very jealous and tried to make it seem unimportant, or abnormal, or a disease as a subject, while, really, it was just something quite irreplaceable that they had missed.”

For tickets or more information call 707-523-4185 or visit Siegel has also produced a CD of the Great War Chronicle available at 6th Street Playhouse. I highly recommend both.

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