|After the war, men of the 253rd Infantry, in order to stifle their boredom decided
to put on a show for the troops. Fredd Wiener (Special Services), Joe Pollack
(K/253rd), Bill Thomas (E/253rd) and several other members of the Regiment
undertook the task of putting on a show to entertain the rest of the men in town.
An Infantry regiment has a large pool of talent to draw from, and soon Wiener,
Pollack and Thomas had a complete cast, musicians, and stage hands for their
theatrical production. Men like "Shorty" Myers (2d Bn Hq/253rd), Danny
Canestraro (Hq Co/253rd) and Armand Beaulieu (F/253rd) volunteered, probably
for the first time since they joined the Army.
This was no ordinary production, however, this was a full scale musical
extravaganza with an orchestra in the pit and all.
Wiener and Pollack must have spent many hours at the local Gaiety Theater in
their respective towns because their 1945 version of "Carmen" was burlesque at its
finest, and the show was much more like "Hellzapoppin" than any opera. Marty
Faloon (B/253rd) led the band that included Herb Behrens (2d Bn Hq 253rd) and
Marty Schopp (D/253rd). Charley Byrd (E/253rd) sang with a quartet and played
his guitar. Attilio Savelli (G/253rd) couldn't keep his brassiere on right side up,
and all the while "El Stinko" (Thomas) paraded back and forth before the
audience. In addition to "El Stinko" , the bullslinger, Wiener played the part of
Carmen, Pollack played Doktor Foss, Ray Richardson (363rd Med) played Tom
Wand, and Al La Vecchia (E/253rd) was Sweet Sue.
The show was to run for only three performances at the Rathaus in
Tauberbischofsheim, but some men from Division Headquarters caught the act
and the entire cast of 44 was soon performing in Bad Mergentheim. Following
that, the show went on the road under the supervision of Lt Bob Bogan, and
presented 143 shows all over Europe. The show played to more than 300,000 GIs
in the opera houses and hosptials of Europe.
|These lovely "ladies" and gentlemen presented their version
of "Carmen" throughout Europe from May to September
1945. The cast starred L to R: Al Lavecchia as "Sweet
Sue", Ray Richardson, as "Tom Wand" (a jockey), Tex
Thomas as "El Stinko" (a bullslinger), Fredd Wiener as
"Carmen" and Joe Pollack as "Docktor Quilton J Foss"
There were 35 other members in the supporting cast.