Knewtson shines as director

Family Living Editor

Register/Jenelle Johnson
Jan Knewtson composed the musical “Memories, Dreams and Shadows — A Soldier’s Recollection” and also wrote four of the songs that will be featured in the Iola Community Theatre production that begins Oct. 31.

When the Sesquicentennial Committee approached Iola Community Theatre’s board to present a patriotic musical for its fall performance, Jan Knewtson was its first choice as director.
Knewtson took the challenge one step further and wrote “Memories, Dreams and Shadows — A Soldier’s Recollection,” and penned four of the songs that will be featured in the USO-style review.
Songs from Civil War days through today’s conflict in Afghanistan will be featured in the show, including “Amazing Grace,” “Putting on the Ritz,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now,” “Moon River” and “Peace on Earth.”
“I think people like musical reviews. They can sit back, enjoy the music and relive memories,” Knewtson said.

MUSIC HAS been part of Knewtson’s life as far back as she can remember. She majored in piano and violin in college and is musical director and organist at First Presbyterian Church. Her first role with Iola Community Theatre was in 1984 with a walk-on part in “Our Town.” She has remained involved with ICT, with her expertise shining as musical director.
Eight years ago she directed the musical “America Is” — that title song will also be featured in the new review.
It took Knewtson six months to orchestrate “Memories.”
“We will have been in rehearsals for six weeks, five days a week, when we open on Oct. 31. I am so pleased with the wonderfully talented group of singers that we have for the show,” she said.
The cast of “Memories” is Bryan Johnson, Dan Johnson, Jim Gilpin, Jim Rausch, Bill Wolf, Kim Strickler, Janet Nichols, Liz Ulrich, Trudy Kenyon Anderson, Susie McKinnis, Karen Toland and Jeff Cokely.
Accompanying the show will be “Iola’s Wall of Honor.” Through the generosity of area residents, Knewtson has gathered photos of those who have served their country to be displayed throughout the performances.
“I am so touched with how the community has responded with photos of soldiers. We owe our servicemen so much gratitude,” she said.
To tie in with Iola’s sesquicentennial, a 33-star flag, which was flying over the nation when Iola was founded, will provide the backdrop for the musicians.

DOORS WILL open at 6 p.m. Oct. 31 and Nov. 6 and 7 and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 1 and 8 at the Community Theatre, 19 S. Jefferson.
Tickets, which include dessert, are $15 for adults and $10 for students and may be purchased at Sophisticated Rose, 19 S. Jefferson Ave.