Musical shares World War II couples’ love stories 

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Christine Colquitt Thacker is eager to see the love story of her late grandparents depicted on stage.

John and Becky Colquitt’s romance is one of eight stories featured in “I’ll Be Seeing You: Love Stories of World War II,” which is set for 8 p.m. June 11 at the Palladium at the Center at the Performing Arts in Carmel. The work is the creation of Carmel resident Ellen Kingston, the director of special events for the Center.

John Colquitt met Becky before he left for World War II. He was stationed in the Philippines.

“My great grandmother was entirely crazy about John Colquitt, but my grandmother said she wasn’t going to have anyone else,” Colquitt Thacker said. “They got married and started a family. They raised four sons and all the boys went off to serve in the military in some capacity. They just had an amazing, beautiful family life. They were the center of their community. They served in their church.”

Colquitt Thacker said her grandfather served in an-all Black unit. 

“His story is kind of different from going into World War II and coming back to the United States where he wasn’t really able to vote yet,” Colquitt Thacker said. “He had a love for country and his feelings of duty and service, no matter what is really beautiful.”

Colquitt Thacker said his unit captured an enemy troop. 

“There was a certain level of irony when they were captured by a Black unit,’ she said of her grandfather, who earned two Bronze Stars. 

Colquitt Thacker’s father, Michael, will be among those attending. Colquitt Thacker, a Noblesville resident, and Kingston are friends, having worked together in Yuletide with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Colquitt Thacker is an assistant professor of dance at Anderson University.

Another story told will be that of Harry and Eleanor McCafferty. Their son Dennis is a retired cellist from the University of Indianapolis. His wife, Anne, is a retired Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra member.

Harry, 97, primarily served in China for the U.S. Army during World War II. He was a cartographer, drawing troop maps from aerial reconnaissance.

“He’s in good health but he’s not very mobile,” Dennis said. “He can’t really travel. But the rest of the family will be here for him. I have two sisters and a brother-in-law. Our son is coming down from Chicago.”

Harry and Eleanor met in Columbus, Ohio, before the war. 

“They were married in Washington, D.C., right before he shipped out,” Dennis said. “My mother has saved the letters he had written during the war. He did a lot of drawing and painting, so a lot of the letters were illustrated that he sent back.”

Dennis said it will be special to see his parents’ love story played out.

“We went through the memorabilia and the stuff she had saved,” Dennis said. “They had been packed away for several years and he hadn’t seen it forever. He had a terrific time going through it. It was a meaningful experience for him to see these things. It spurred him telling us stories that we had never heard before.”

The love story also includes Bud and Maida Hyde, who were married in 1942. Kingston said Bud wrote Maida consistently and she kept all the letters. Their love story tragically ended when Bud’s plane was shot down during a mission over Tokyo. Matthew Vire, who is performing in the show, shared the story of Bud and Maida, who were the grandparents of Kevin Wanzer.

“We are delighted with the narration Ellen wrote for my in-laws’ story and honored that she chose to include them,” said Vire, who lives in Indianapolis. “We dug up some great old photos and, shown in the context of their story, it’s extremely moving. I’m always very happy to do anything with Ellen. She’s extraordinarily creative, gracious and a joy to work with. This particular show is especially thrilling because we get to do it at the Palladium. To sing on that stage is indescribably wonderful. My mother-in-law (Maida’s daughter) will fly in from Florida to see the show. She’s excited and we’re so looking forward to that.”

For more, visit thecenterpresents.org.


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