Local Playwright Pens World War I Comedy

OSWEGO – For nearly two years, Rick Sivers has been reading over and over again the book, “My War With the United States” contemplating how to turn it into a play.

The book, written by Ludwig Bemelmans, author of the Madeline series of children’s books, details his time in the US Army while stationed at Fort Ontario and other locations.

Rick Sivers
Rick Sivers

But, it was the Oswego experiences that concerned Sivers and with permission from Ludwig’s daughter, Barbara Bemelmans, the adaptation of the book to the stage was undertaken.

“My War With The United States” is a look into the daily life of Ludwig Bemelmans in the summer and fall of 1917 at Fort Ontario.

“Ludwig did all kinds of things that got him into trouble,” Sivers said. “That makes for a fun script.”

Audiences will love the antics on stage, some of it reminiscent of Marx Brothers’ comedy.

Theatergoers will need to prepare themselves for gunshots in a hospital ward, a ballet gone wrong and soldiers just learning what Army life is all about.

The cast includes Matthew Fleming, Pablo Mendoza, Bev Murtha, Don Vanouse, Patrick Carmen, Marianne Natoli, Juan LaManna, Ligia LaManna, Matthew Barnhart, among others.

The play is being presented as part of the Bemelmans Festival which runs from May 12-21 and includes are variety of events including historical presentations about World War I, walking tour, art exhibit by local residents and a fun day on May 20 with free admission to Fort Ontario.

“My War With The United States” is the second play in the Oswego Players’ 2017 season and will be presented in the Frances Marion Brown Theater in the Oswego Civic Arts Center on May 13, 19 and 20 at 8 p.m. and May 14 and 21 at 2 p.m.

For reservations, contact the Oswego Players’ box office at 315-343-5138.