CONWAY — Arkansans joined thousands of Americans, as well as untold numbers of people worldwide, in celebrating Armistice Day on Nov. 11. Known now as Veterans Day, Armistice Day marked the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918.
Members of the Conway Women’s Chorus have prepared a special program to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the end of World War I. They have presented parts of the program in various locations for the past few months and will present it in full during two upcoming performances.
The Conway Women’s Chorus, under the direction of founder Joan Hanna of Wooster, will present 1918: The Gift of Peace at 7 p.m. Dec. 1 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 2 at Wesley United Methodist Church, 2310 E. Oak St.
“This is a dinner-theater presentation,” Hanna said. “A meal will be provided based on popular dishes of the time period. The meal will be served 45 minutes prior to showtime — 6:15 on Dec. 1 and 1:15 on Dec. 2.”
Hanna said the meal will include appetizers of cheese, sausage, fruit and bread; a main course of ham, sweet-potato salad and seasoned green beans; and desserts of “Ration Cake,” which is gluten-free, and brownies. Tea, coffee and water will also be available.
“If you have any food allergies, please give us a call at (501) 339-7401, and we will work to accommodate your needs,” Hanna said.
“Our World War I Ensemble will present the first act by giving the audience a glimpse into the lives of those in the United States in 1917 and 1918 with popular music and costumes,” Hanna said. “Ensemble members will also share events of the time period and give special recognition to the women who ‘went to war.’”
Members of the World War I Ensemble include Ruth Bass-Burgess of Bee Branch; Judie Burney, Mimi Carlin, Elizabeth Barnes, Dee Woodrum and Teena Woodworth, all of Conway; Kayla Pointer and Lisa Bouabedi, both of Greenbrier; Jo-Ed Woodward of Mayflower; and Nancy Henderson of Wooster.
Hanna said ensemble members portraying women who “went to war” will include the following:
• Bass-Burgess portrays a nurse stationed at Camp Pike in North Little Rock.
• Woodworth plays a Doughnut Dolly, who was a member of The Salvation Army that went to the front lines and made doughnuts for the soldiers.
• Woodward appears as Peggy Hull, who was a reporter covering World War I and World War II and the first female correspondent accredited by the U.S. War Department.
• Barnes portrays a volunteer with the American Red Cross.
The second act will include a short play based on O. Henry’s short story “The Gift of the Magi,” which will be directed by Kim Norris of Greenbrier and features Kelly King and Douglas Butler, both of Conway.
Dancers from Irby Dance Studio in Conway will be included in the second act, as will Christmas carolers from Julia Lee Moore Elementary School and the entire Conway Women’s Chorus, who will present Christmas music of the period.
The Irby dancers will demonstrate popular dances of the 1910s and a short selection from The Nutcracker. The elementary school carolers — The Mustang Singers, under the direction of Bryan Cole of Conway — will sing “Deck the Halls” and “Stille Nacht” and will join the chorus in “Rise Up Shepherd and Follow.”
Other members of the Conway Women’s Chorus participating in the upcoming production include Patty Phelps, Crystal Voegel, Bonda Moyer, Mary Lackie and Bert Lackie, all of Conway; and Kim Norris and Jan Newcomer, both of Greenbrier.
“This will be a very unique experience for the Christmas season,” Hanna said. “We hope many patrons will be able to join us.”
Hanna said the World War I Ensemble has been performing the program since 2017, in conjunction with the Department of Arkansas Heritage and the World War I Centennial Commission. The ensemble most recently performed
Nov. 11 during a Veterans Day program at Julie’s Sweet Shoppe in Conway and Oct. 27 at the Washington County Historical Society Headquarters House Museum in Fayetteville.
Tickets for 1918: The Gift of Peace are $20 per person. For reservations, call Hanna at (501) 339-7401, email email@example.com or visit conwaywomenschorus.org. Payment information will be made available upon reservation. A limited number of spaces are available.