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U.S. Army "Blueprint Specials" and Other Soldier Shows

Musical revues created by the U.S. Army Special Services Division for soldiers to perform and published as a complete do-it-yourself kit containing script, orchestrations, set and costume designs, choreography, and program templates.

Introduction

Hi, Yank! was the second of the "Blueprint Specials" to be published, and according to contemporary accounts the most well-received.

It was inspired by Yank: The Army Weekly—a magazine published by the U.S. military and distributed to members of the armed forces during World War II. Each episode of this revue is titled after a section of the magazine, and most of the scenes feature cartoonist George Baker's Sad Sack character, who debuted in the first issue of Yank.

Even the cover is a parody of the cover of Yank magazine, with the subtitle "The Army Show" substituting for the magazine's subtitle "The Army Weekly." Illustrations by George Baker appear on the cover and throughout the "Blueprint Special."

 

Cover of "Yank: The Army Weekly"  Cover of "Hi, Yank!: The Army Show"

 

Unlike About Face!, the previous Blueprint Special, which had input from civilians, Hi, Yank! was a true soldier show—conceived, written, composed, acted, and produced entirely by Army service members, although most of the show's creators and performers had previous professional experience in show business.

The test performance of Hi, Yank! took place at Fort Dix, New Jersey on Monday, August 7, 1944. It was produced by Broadway press agent Captain Hy Gardner; Corporal David E. Fitzgibbon directed and did some dance routining in the opening and Sports Section numbers. The cast included ex-vaudeville performer Bobby Faye as Sad Sack, and the Principal Dancer was Sgt. Bobby Evans, former star of New York's Cotton Club and Charlie Foy's Hollywood. Evans' original act entitled "Fifty-Second Street" was incorporated into Hi, Yank! Baritone James Boxwill and tenor Samuel Alessi were also featured in the cast. Sets and costumes were designed by Lt. Robert Stevenson, who had worked as a stage designer for the Capitol Theatre in New York.

The score was recorded under the direction of Andre Kostelanetz and sent to troops to promote the show and familiarize them with the material in consideration of putting together a local production. Bob Hope provided an introduction.

The "Blueprint Special" episode of the PBS television show History Detectives depicts the mystery and curiosity surrounding the discovery of a promotional disc that featured a spoken introduction by the show's director and a performance of the song "The Most Important Job" from the show's finale.

Contents

               Front Cover
               Inside Front Cover

Section I      
               Questionnaire
               Title Page
               What They Said about "HI YANK!"
               Table of Contents
               Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Soldier Shows    
               Sample Program
               Script with Lyrics and Stage Directions

Section II     
               Costume Designs with Construction Directions

Section III    
               Scenic Designs with Construction Directions
               Stage Lighting Instructions

 

Orchestrations

These instructions are in the score:

The music has been assembled so that each instrument has a complete routine of the show in proper sequence.

The orchestrations have been voiced so that they will sound well with a minimum of one trumpet, three saxophones, piano and drums. If more of the instruments which have been scored are available, they of course should be used. Additional instruments, up to and including a full band, may be used. The pianist's and conductor's parts have been thoroughly cued. If necessary, theand entire show can be played by piano alone.

Section IV      Conductor's Score

Section V       Vocal Lead

Section VI      Piano

Section VII     1st Alto Saxophone

Section VIII    2nd Alto Saxophone

Section IX      1st Tenor Saxophone

Section X       2nd Tenor Saxophone

Section XI      1st Trumpet

Section XII     2nd Trumpet

Section XIII    3rd Trumpet

Section XIV    1st Trombone

Section XV     2nd Trombone

Section XVI    Guitar

Section XVII   Bass

Section XVIII  Drums

               Inside Back Cover
               Outside Back Cover

Creative Team

Music and Lyrics

  • Pvt. Frank Loesser
  • Lt. Alex North
  • Lt. Jack Hill
  • Pvt. Hy Zaret
  • Sgt. Jesse Berkman


Sketches

  • Pvt. Arnold Auerbach
  • Lt. Bob Eastright
  • Lt. Jack Hill
  • T/4 Ed Milk
  • Pfc Martin Weldon


Costume and Scenery Designs

  • Lt. Robert T. Stevenson
  • Sgt. Al Hamilton
  • Drawn by T/4 Edward E. Wolf


Dances

  • Pvt. José Limón


Orchestrations

  • Pvt. Herbert Bourne
  • T/5 Bernard Landes
  • T/5 George Leeman
  • T/5 Lee Montgomery
  • T/5 Robert C. Williams


Cover and Other Drawings

  • Sgt. George Baker

Production

Synopsis

            Overture

Act I


Scene 1.  The Soldier's Friend
            Song: "Yank, Yank, Yank!"


Scene 2. Sad Sack
            Song: "The Saga Of The Sack" 


Scene 3. Message Center


Scene 4. Sports Section

            Ballet

SAD SACK dreams about being the star of the basketball game in this farcical dream-ballet featuring men in tutus.


Scene 5. Girl of the Week
            Song: "My Gal And I" (Bob)

A pilot pines for his hometown honey but feels she is with him every moment. This simple scene follows the same format that had been used in About Face! for "First Class Private Mary Brown": the entire song is performed as a male solo in front of the curtain, then the orchestra plays while the soldier dances with his girlfriend, then the singer reprises the last part of the song.


Scene 6. WAC Department

IRIS, a new WAC recruit, is complaining that the uniform issued to her is a man's uniform and is way too big for her. The SERGEANT is not very sympathetic, and when he stands up we see why—he is wearing the WAC uniform, complete with skirt, that he was issued. This sketch has its origins in a skit written by a student in the school for Special Services in Lexington Virginia, where it had the title "WACs Fifth Avenue." The title was changed so that each scene could correspond to a section of Yank magazine, but the sketch would be reused later with its original title in P.F.C. Mary Brown.

Scene 7. Camp News
            Song: "The General Orders" (24 Members Of The Guard)

Act II


Scene 8. Puzzle Page
            Song: "Classification Blues"

Four men complain that the skills sets they brought with them when they enlisted have absolutely nothing to do with the jobs they have been assigned.


Scene 9. Strictly GI
This scene is conducted entirely in acronyms and initialisms—some military, such as PX, K.P., and AWOL, and some more popular (and sometimes off-color), such as O.K., QT,, P.U., and S.O.B. This skit by Arnold Auerbach was written while he was going to school for Special Services in Lexington, Virginia.

Scene 10. Mail Call
            Song: "Little Red Rooftops" 

JOE receives a postcard in the mail from "you can imagine whom," but he is more interested in the picture on front than in the righting on back. He sings nostalgically about how it is a picture of his hometown on which his room has been marked with an "X." 


Scene 11. What's Your Problem?
            Song: "Stuffo Powder Feels So Clean" (sung to the tune of the Pepsi-Cola jingle)

SGT. AGONY conducts a call-in advice show on the radio. SAD SACK calls in with a very bizarre and zany problem. At one point the show is interrupted by a commercial jingle about a foot powder. The music for this song is not included in the score, but there would have been no need, since this earworm was the first radio jingle ever written and was very well-known at the time.

Scene 12. Report From The Caribbean
            Song: "Report From The Caribbean"

This colorful, lavish production number features detailed choreography by Pvt. José Limón, a Mexican immigrant who had already made numerous appearances as a dancer on Broadway. After the war he became an American citizen and founded his own dance company, where he developed and taught his distinctive approach to dancing known as the Limón technique.

The Special Services division was one of the few Army units to be integrated at this time. At the tryout performance of Hi, Yank!, this number featured Black dancers Bobby Evans and Suzie Brown dancing the rumba. Evans was billed as Principal Dancer, and his original act "Fifty-second Street" was incorporated into the show, although it was not included in the published script.

Scene 13. Post-War Department

Ten years in the future, JOE and MIKE have mundane civilian jobs after the war, and they discover that SAD SACK has become fantastically rich and powerful and is now their tyrannical boss, all too ready to take revenge for the way they treated him in the Army. They attempt to get out of this nightmare by re-enlisting in the Army, only to learn that SAD SACK has just been made Chief of Staff.


Scene 14. Round-Up
            Finale (medley of three songs):         
            "The Most Important Job" 
            "Report from the Caribbean" [Reprise] 
            "Little Red Rooftops" [Reprise] 

SAD SACK returns to the Army smoking a cigar and wearing a ludicrous uniform with flashing stars on its giant epaulettes. A serious, by-the-book MP is unfazed by SAD SACK's eccentric appearance and defiant behavior and proudly declares his job in the Army to be "the most important job I ever had." The entire cast joins in, reprising two other numbers to bring the show to a rousing conclusion.

 

Musical Numbers

Overture

"Yank, Yank, Yank!"

"The Saga of the Sack"

Ballet

"My Gal and I"

This song may be related to a song called “My Gal’s Working at Lockheed,” written in 1944 by composer Matt Dennis and lyricist Frank Loesser. It does not appear in the published materials of this show but may have been written for it or used in it at some time, and some sources mention it as a song in the show. Like "My Gal and I," it is sung by a pilot thinking about his civilian girlfriend, but it goes farther and makes the girlfriend an employee of Lockheed and the singer imagines her working on the plane he flies into combat.

"The General Orders"

"Classification Blues"
Music and words by Frank Loesser

"Little Red Rooftops"

"Stuffo Powder Feels So Clean"

This song is a parody putting new lyrics (about a fictional foot powder) to the music of the jingle "Pepsi-Cola Hits the Spot," which was the first commercial jingle ever written for the radio and was very well-known at the time. The music is not included in the score to this show.

"Report from the Caribbean"
Music by Lt. Alex North, words by Lt. Jack Hill

Finale

The finale features one new number, "The Most Important Job," followed by an instrumental reprise of a few bars from "Report from the Caribbean," then a reprise of "Little Red Rooftops," sung first as a solo, then by the entire cast.

 

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