"Rivets" playing on victory ship Fridays-Sundays, Oct. 1 - 24
“Homefront Soldiers,” the loved ones that 16 million American WW 2 Soldiers left behind while fighting overseas, are celebrated in RIVETS by Kathryn G. McCarty and Mitchell Covington, opening October 1 on the SS Red Oak Victory at the site of the historic Kaiser Richmond Shipyards in the Rosie the Riveter National Park.
The Kaiser Shipyards, the most famous and productive shipyards in the San Francisco Bay Area, serve as backdrop for RIVETS, which will run on the historic site Fridays-Sundays, October 1 - 24. In the past year, RIVETS has played to full houses in four separate runs, and the show's success prompted another run.
According to Covington, audiences will be treated to three new songs, and a much tighter book. The production team believes RIVETS is a story of importance not only to those living in the Bay Area, but to people across the country, and “look forward to that development.”
Covington was recently honored with a 2010 Northern California Emmy Award for his work on the Robert Redford narrated documentary "Saving the Bay.” While composing the music for RIVETS, he juggled writing for the PBS documentary, and building the music for RIVETS.
“Each time the show has been done, changes have been made,” said McCarty, adding that visitors will also note the changes in the road to get to the ship – “all paved, lined, lit and clearly marked. And the riser style seating has been added to the theatre which occupies one of the Ship’s holds.”
The Red Oak Victory ship is the last surviving Victory ship built and launched in the Kaiser Richmond Shipyard.
“This year is the 65th Anniversary of the end of WW 2,” said McCarty, “There are many activities which honor our Homefront Soldiers and Veterans, and teach entire new generations what war can become.” While RIVETS is a fictionalized story, it explores WW2 history, including rationing, blackouts and the bombing on the United State’s East and West Coasts.
“Many people consider 9/11 and Pearl Harbor to be the only times we have been attacked on our own Soil, it’s not true,” said McCarty, who is also an Educator. “I’ve talked to many high school aged students and young adults, and they simply never learned of these attacks or the Japanese Internment Camps in their history classes. I am always surprised by that.”
Among the Fall’s Bay Area activities celebrating the military and WW 2 are Fleet Week (October 7 – 12) and the Rosie the Riveter National Park will host its Homefront Festival (October 2).
“We have had the remarkable experience of doing the piece in front of many different audiences who all genuinely enjoyed the show. I’ve been surprised by complete strangers who have attended all of the productions, and approached me saying they wanted to help get RIVETS out to a wider audience.”
“The show’s characters are fictional,” McCarty explains, “but the story is based on a decade of historical research. Henry J. Kaiser's Shipyards produced the ships that helped America win WW 2, and changed our country forever.” McCarty noted that the entire Bay Area played a critical role in America winning the war, "Richmond, Sausalito, Marin, Vallejo, San Francisco, Oakland - the characters and plotline of RIVETS are a tapestry of the entire Bay Area's dedication to the war effort."
With most of the Country’s men at war, women entered the work force for the first time in history. Women known as “Rosie the Riveter,” “Wendy the Welder” and “Dynamite Dorothy” were led by industrial geniuses like Henry J. Kaiser. The Bay Area had the largest concentration of shipbuilding, reaching from the Golden Gate nearly a hundred miles east to Stockton, with 14 shipyards contained within the area. The Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond employed over 40% of the area’s 250,000 shipyard workers.
The deck of the SS Red Oak Victory boasts views of both the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges and the Port of Oakland. “We are grateful to have a musical that celebrates the dedication of Americans during WW2 performed on the ship,” said Lois Boyle, President of the Richmond Museum Organization, owners of the Red Oak. Boyle is optimistic about the future of the SS Red Oak Victory, adding that the organization " is engaged in an all-out effort to raise funds to put the ship in drydock for the badly needed hull painting and engine room work so that the ship will once again sail."
According to Boyle, unlike any surviving WW2 ship in the entire Country, the historical integrity of the Red Oak Victory will remain in tact when it has been restored. "It is a museum, above all. It is a piece of of history and RIVETS brings the history of the Yard and the Rosie the Riveters to life in 3-D.”
“RIVETS is the story of the Rosie the Riveters, the women of World War II who influenced generations that followed. It is the story of the development of the Bay Area where the population swelled as people migrated to the East Bay in search of war production work,” said Director McCarty who said previous performances have been at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, the Lesher Arts Center in Walnut Creek, and the SS Red Oak Victory.
"Because we are developing a new musical," said Covington, the show's composer. "This is an excellent opportunity to further work on the script and to add additional songs to the show." Covington is an award-winning Bay Area composer whose works span many genres including music for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensemble, theater, television and film. He has also composed the music for over 20 independent film projects, and has served as Director of Music for First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley for 17 years.
"The show contains moments that are heroic, poignant, funny and dramatic—these have provided me with many wonderful opportunities to compose music in a broad range of styles and emotions." Covington says.
"Stories told in the cannon of American musical theatre, from Showboat to Carousel to Chorus Line to RIVETS, educate and illuminate audiences, here in America and around the world, in the most entertaining way, about who we are and who we want to be." said RIVETS musical director, Peter Maleitzke.
Maleitzke has been involved in the formation of many musicals. Credits include SF's American Conservatory Theater's world premiere of The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, associate music director of Urinetown (First National), the pre-Broadway workshop of The Geeks, and The Threepenny Opera featuring Bebe Neuworth, Nancy Dusault, Lisa Vroman and Anika Noni Rose. Peter Maleitzke served as conductor of the First National production of The Phantom of the Opera. Other credits include: musical assistant to Michael Tilson Thomas, and conductor of the Tuscan Music Festival.
According to McCarty, the production team is enthused about the opportunity to continue to partner professional theatre with community service. Among the community groups that RIVETS will help support are the Blue Star Moms, a service organization created during World War II. Patrons will receive ticket discounts with donations for Holiday Care packages to the Blue Star Moms who have sons and daughters currently serving in branches of the Military all over the world.
In addition, all WW2 Military Veterans and “Rosie the Riveters,” and uniformed soldiers will receive complimentary admission to the show.
“The 1940’s were the beginning of monumental transformations between both sexes and races” said McCarty, citing President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 8802 as an example. “As a result of pressure from the African American Porter’s Union, President Roosevelt banned discrimination in War Production industries and Government because of race, creed, color, or national origin. These people changed the world."
“The racism issue of the show has been tough for our younger actors who don’t understand that they can’t interact with someone of a different race in anything other than a friendly manner. We have the WW2 generation to thank for that.”
McCarty spent 10 years researching the development of the Bay Area during the 1940’s. “I've blended historical information with fictitious story lines and characters,” explains McCarty, who says RIVETS explores many aspects of the 1940’s America, including American Industrialization, War Propaganda, Rationing and Changing Roles between the Sexes and the Races.
“We have been very pleased with the response from the earlier productions,” Covington said, adding that while enjoying the response from critics, “The most heartfelt review came from an original Rosie who told us that she felt that she’d been ‘transported back in time.’ You can’t ask for more.”
For tickets to the performance call (925) 676-5705 or visit Galateanplayers.com Performances are Friday - Saturdays Oct. 1-24, Friday, Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sundays at 3. Before the Saturday and Sunday matinee performances, the Ship is open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.