Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Adventures in Musical Theater Land

Just about a year ago I released “More Fog, Please,” my one and only non-fiction book, a memoir of some of my “adventures” directing community and high school musicals over a period of thirty-one years. It truly was a delight to revisit some of the eighty shows I directed during that time, and to recall my interesting experiences when using stage fog … hence, the name, suggested by my terrific editor, Ashleigh Evans.

I’ve had a nice response to the book and at present it is being offered at a reduced price both on Amazon.com ($10.95) and at the Pocono Cinema and Cultural Center in East Stroudsburg ($10.00). I name lots of names, because every show involved a small army of people all working together to produce some pretty darned good shows! If you were involved in Pocono Lively Arts (1984-2007), Black Sheep Productions (2008-2011), Stroudsburg High School (1974-1990), East Stroudsburg H.S. and later ESHS South (1991-2015) musicals, you may find yourself in these pages. I wish I could have included every person who contributed, and I named as many as I could.

By request, there are also signed copies of not only this book but also my four novels (How I Grew Up, Eli’s Heart, You Are My Song, and Jamie’s Children) available at the theater. Books can be purchased whenever the theater is open. Don’t forget ─ books make fine Christmas gifts! People tell me it’s a “fun read.” It certainly was an enjoyable “write”! NOTE: A share of the proceeds from book sales goes to help support the theater, so you’re giving to two good causes: a wonderful community theater and a “starving author.”


“More Fog, Please” is Susan Moore Jordan’s affectionate and witty look at her 31 years of directing community and high school musical productions. The director has selected her favorites from some 80 musicals and (she) describes perils, successes, things that made the show particularly memorable. The fog of the title appears more than once, sometimes with near-disastrous consequences. It is a testament to the excellence of the productions that many participants have gone on to careers in music and the theater. Producers and directors of amateur musicals will find a great deal to love in “More Fog, Please,” but every reader will be entertained by the lively narrative which shows the drama behind the drama.

"More Fog, Please" is an incredibly captivating, quaint, beautiful portrait of community theater in small-town Pennsylvania. With stories about some well-known musicals, and other not-so-well-known musicals, the memoirs in this book have something for everyone. Susan Moore Jordan brings these productions back to life in a way I didn't think possible, bringing a new respect to the hard work and dedication that it takes to put on a successful show. 

The book is written in a familiar, graceful style as if you are sitting across from the author sharing a cup of tea and swapping tales. She gently brings the reader through many of her productions. The ups and downs, the mishaps and calamities, but through it all, she puts a face and history to the many people, young and old who she worked countless hours with, and the many challenges they all had to face building a successful production.

Capping a remarkable musical career, Susan Jordan has published her memoir of 31 years of directing amateur theater for Pocono Lively Arts (P.L.A.) and Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg High Schools. A reminiscence of 80 shows from 1984 to 2015, “More Fog, Please” highlights all the measures – moving, stressful, comical, scary – that confirmed the old adage “the show must go on.” For anyone connected with any of Jordan's productions, this easy read will be a delightful trip down memory lane. For those in the audience, it is a peak at the months of creative labors that bore the fruitful stage production you enjoyed. For those aspiring to be directors, it is an enlightening, encouraging, engaging must-read.

www.susanmoorejordan.com  Amazon author page: http://tinyurl.com/osmvab 
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/sjordanauthor/

Cover by Tristan Flanagan

Sunday, November 13, 2016

MEMORIES OF JAKE – Thoughts after Veterans’ Day

Two brothers, traumatized as children by seeing their father murder their mother’s parents. Then as young adults, both serve in the Vietnam War.

When I began work on Memories of Jake, my intention wasn’t to write a book about the war. But what I’ve learned has become an important part of the book: it wasn’t possible to separate Andrew’s and Jake’s life experiences from the impact of their time in Vietnam.

I have a family member who served as a Marine, and it’s taken him decades to deal with what the war and its aftermath meant in his life. And I have come to believe he is a typical veteran of the Vietnam War. This nation, it seems to me, has still not really reached an understanding of what that war did to us. It divided the country as nothing has since the Civil War.

So writing about Andrew, the artist, and Jacob, the warrior, meant I needed to find out as much as I could about how their time in Vietnam changed each of their lives … and find a way for them to deal with that. Hundreds of hours of research, many first person accounts (books and articles), videos, films. We Were Soldiers is very powerful, and from what veterans tell me, very honest … the first time the U.S. military really understood what they were up against.

Many members of the military found themselves conflicted by the experience. While fighting hard while in country ─ not just against the enemy, but against the climate and the terrain ─ they did everything they could to follow orders and to function as warriors. As the years passed, these warriors began to question why they were there and what they were fighting for.

Some veterans returned home to be actively opposed to the war. They had seen too many young men die. They were against this country continuing to send more recruits into what began to be seen as an “unwinnable” conflict. Many draft dodgers fled to Canada, where they found refuge. Some returning veterans could not adjust to civilian life and made their way into wilderness areas of this country, avoiding civilian life sometimes for decades.

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with a remarkable soldier, a veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Lt. Col. Charles Vincent (U.S. Army, retired) was kind enough to agree to read those portions of the book in which the war is important and offer me suggestions and corrections. Yet after all these years and a full life as a civilian, he admitted reading the passages from my book meant loss of sleep … Vietnam is still with him.

Vietnam is now a part of me as well. While I have come to believe the war was a mistake made by administrations dating back to Harry Truman, I grieve for the nearly sixty thousand lives lost, and I salute the veterans with utmost admiration. We need a strong military to defend this country. I fervently pray for our troops currently deployed. 

War is hell. Mankind can’t seem to stay out of it. Let’s all honor our veterans and pray for peace … constantly.