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THEATER REVIEW: OnStage Playhouse's “Swingtime Canteen” is a sweet jog down memory lane

Remember the old days when we had “good” wars and never a question that the right guys would win?

“Swingtime Canteen” recalls the last one – the World War II era – with a musical salute that’ll have you tapping your toes and humming along – and maybe getting nostalgic for the rightness of causes.

“Swingtime Canteen,” playing through June 25 at Chula Vista’s OnStage Playhouse, is a revue of those great old ’40s songs, so plot is not paramount.

But here’s the setup: Aging Hollywood star Marian Ames (Kat Fitzpatrick), finding herself put out to pasture “unless I want to play Van Johnson’s mother,” has chosen to pack up her old kit bag and volunteer at the Hollywood Canteen instead.

There she recruits three gal pals – femme fatale Lilly McBain (Janelle McCuistion), “my friend and longtime stand-in” Jo Sterling (Jessica Stamper) and Marian’s “little girl lost,” niece Katie Gammersflugel (Hannah M. James) – and the quartet wings its way to London to entertain the troops.

There, amid air-raid sirens and what sounds like bombing, the ladies do a warm-up radio show before embarking on their USO tour.

You’ll hear “Sentimental Journey,” “How High The Moon,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” a whole medley of great Andrews Sisters hits, even a couple of World War I songs (“Keep The Home Fires Burning” and “Pack Up Your Troubles”).

There’s good-natured ribbing among the ladies, some fine choreography by Chrissy Burns, a blockbuster solo or two from each lady .

McBain does a smashing job on “Daddy,” vamping it up as she flings a fur around. Fitzpatrick waxes romantic with “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.”

James does a nice job on the poignant “I Don’t Want To Walk Without You,” and Stamper is a hoot on the novelty “His Rocking Horse Ran Away.”

There’s no great drama here, no message, but this “Swingtime Canteen” – even performed with canned accompaniment – is a pleasant journey down memory lane.

The details

“Swingtime Canteen” plays through June 25 at OnStage Playhouse, 291 Third Ave. in Chula Vista.

Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; matinee Sunday at 2 p.m.; added 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, June 18.

For tickets call Or call (619) 422-7787 or visit HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.