‘This is the Army’ – Rome Opera House

Irving Berlin c-600Chick saw Irving Berlin’s ‘This is the Army’ at the Rome Opera House on June 19, 1944.     The pictured program was sent home to his Mom & Dad which was found in a letter.

In May 1941, ex-Sergeant Irving Berlin was on tour at Camp Upton, his old Army base in Yaphank, New York during World War I.  There he spoke with the commanding officers about re-staging his original 1917 Army play, Yip! Yip! Yaphank. Gen. George Marshall approved a Broadway production of a wartime musical for the army, allowing Berlin to conduct the arrangements and rehearsals at Camp Upton much like he had done during World War I.  Sgt. Ezra Stone was selected as director for the new contemporary play, and the two set up on base during the weekdays to put together the story and crew.

Irving Berlin b-600The retooled play ‘This is the Army’ ran on Broadway, at the Broadway Theatre from July 4, 1942 to September 26, 1942.  The show was such a success that it went on the road and the national tour of the revue ended in San Francisco, CA on February 13, 1943.

In 1944, The Company toured London and then spent two weeks in North Africa. The company finally found temporary shelter in the small San Carlo Opera House in Naples, where they played for the first half of April. “The men were brought down in relays to see the show. They didn’t know what they were getting,” said Manson. “They thought they were going to see an accordion player and a broad shaking her ass. But we gave them an enormous show, with 150 men” and, of course, Irving Berlin a-600Irving Berlin, whose poignant rendition of “Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning” was a highlight of each performance. By this time, the song had become more than an anthem of disgust with reveille; it was a protest against the monstrous war that had overtaken all of their lives.

After Allied troops had taken Rome, Berlin’s company came into the city on trucks six days behind the victorious forces. Later that month, ‘This Is the Army’ took up residence at the Royal Opera House, performing twice daily.

Reference: National Archives

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