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That Show That Makes Me Think of Bing Crosby: Samantha Pearlman’s “Devotedly Sincerely Yours: The Story of the USO”

Posted July 23rd, 2012

The director tells the actress to pause. She backs away from the microphone. The director sidemouths a comment to the lighting designer, who considers it, then nods. The director turns her gaze back to the stage, and tells the actress to take a step towards stage left; here, she says, her hair will catch the light—catch it in such a way that there is a buoy of yellow: a halo.

Look again. A young woman—walnut, curly hair and green eyes—talks to herself. She’s acting one moment, then running off stage the next, sitting in the audience to direct the role she has just left—trying to wrestle a phantom it seems.

Why is she doing this? Is she insane?

Samantha Pearlman and her ‘boys’ backstage for DSY’s run at Wesleyan University.

Samantha Pearlman is not insane. The enthusiasm with which she speaks is a thrice-churned product—one part ambition, one part intelligence, and one part love. Perhaps then, she is lesser-than-sane; but, she is not insane. That adjective she saves for her decision to research, write, direct, set design, produce, and star in the original run of a one-woman musical, Devotedly, Sincerely Yours: The Story of the USO. “I needed to do everything. I needed to try wearing all those hats,” Samantha said.

For this year’s Philly Fringe in steps Kate Galvin, former casting director at the Walnut Street Theatre (she also recently directed Proof at Walnut Street Theatre’s Studio 3), to spare Samantha the pangs of overcommitment and to add her touch of brilliancy. “These past couple of weeks I’ve been rewriting, revisiting the script, changing some things, making things better with Kate’s help,” Samantha said. She is grateful for Kate, the sincerity of her thanks unmistakable because of her sighs, the admissions —  “I’m so lucky to have her,” Samantha said — and the vivid memory of DSY‘s full-throttle genesis: “Usually during tech week the director is in the audience with the designers looking at each lighting look, and saying, ‘I like that. I don’t like that. That change is weird. It has to be slower.’ I’m on stage. I can’t see any of this. It was so insane.” A circus performer trying to juggle her own limbs.

After the jump: Wild claims about Wesleyan University, and stories of the women of the USO.

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