About the Author
Raymond Fox, a resident of Warrenton, VA, is a fourth generation Oregonian who grew up surrounded by music. His paternal grandfather played a number of instruments and for many years conducted the Sunday concert from the bandstand in Portland, Oregon.
After graduation from college, he had over three years of military service in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific Theaters, during World War II. In the minds of many, that was the major happening in the 20th century which dramatically altered the lives of the servicemen and noncombatants alike, and its influence was significant on the generations that followed. In contrast to the innumerable printed biographical, fictional and historical treatments of that period, Raymond Fox decided to portray it in a more all-encompassing tableau that recreates the war time involvement of individuals, including their styles of music, dance, dress, mores and unique war related activities of that time. This took the form of the Musical Play "Take It Easy".
Much of the book was based on his own wartime experience which placed him on the Penn State Campus in 1943 where an Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) unit was undergoing training. "Take It Easy" deals with a seldom recounted period of World War II history when over 200,000 of our army inductees were enlisted in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP). The ASTP was in operation from 1942-1944 on many college campuses, and was part of the lives not only of the ASTP soldiers, but also of their families and their sweethearts or friends who were among the undergraduate coeds enrolled at the same time. This story is about young men who were taken from their college campuses to find themselves on other college campuses, in uniform. It is also about the girls who saw their boyfriends leave to go to war, and shortly thereafter, were presented with a new crop of young men to console them, if only temporarily. As was the case with some ASTP units, they were abruptly disbanded to provide front line ground troops, which many times resulted in tragic casualties.
"Take It Easy" opened off-Broadway at the Judith Anderson Theatre on March 8, 1996. It attracted thousands of theater goers as its scheduled run was twice extended. "Take It Easy's" 103 performances evoked audience members to write letters of praise to both author and company. The response to the work was overwhelming. After each performance many from the audience were eager to talk to any member of the staff in order to share their emotional responses to this event. It was a portion of their lives or the lives of their families that had not been presented to them in any other form.
The songs received much acclaim. Eric Grode, writing in Back Stage said "Songs like "I Think I'm Falling For You' and 'Say Farewell' sound fresh from 'Your Hit Parade'." And Ed Z. Pell, Host, Nationally Syndicated Program, 'Seems Like Old Times '"...a delightful musical...songs...so reminiscent of that era."
In October 1997 the main stage version of "Take It Easy" opened at the Armstrong Auditorium of the Shenandoah College of Musical Theater as a part of their regular academic program. The enthusiastic audience response encompassed a broad age range from pre-teen to seniors. In the past 9 years, productions of the play have taken place in the United States, Canada, and the British Isles. A unique aspect in all of these was the fact that the cast members enjoyed acting in the production and learning about a period that was remote to them except for the remembrances of their parents or grandparents.
To view actual scenes, with the music, go to www.takeiteasy.org