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“Letters From Home” comes to Morgantown


Erinn Dearth and Dan Beckmann want to change your mind about what a USO show can be. And they’re heading to all 50 states this year to do it in their “Letters from Home” tour, coming to Morgantown Saturday at The Metropolitan Theatre.

Twelve years ago, Coast Guard veteran and Erinn’s father, Pat Dearth, suggested that Erinn and Dan begin performing a USO show to honor veterans. In the beginning, it was more of an Andrews Sisters tribute show, but as time passed, it grew into an all-generations show, with a particular emphasis on the Vietnam War era. Challenging the preconceived ideas about what a USO show can look like inspires Dearth and Beckmann.

“We’ve evolved with the audience,” Beckmann said in an interview. “It’s allowed us to become even more unique. You see a fair number of Andrews Sisters groups out there, but very rarely do you see two people tap dancing to Creedence Clearwater Revival.”

Dearth and Beckmann work hard to make the show accessible for people of all ages. They do include some traditional songs like “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” but they also include songs from Johnny Cash, The Doors, Peter Paul and Mary, and of course, “Country Roads.” Their goal is to make this fun for everyone who comes to the show.

“We do a lot of tap dance through the whole performance. It’s kind of a thing of yester-year, so it’s really fun to sing and tap dance and bring that whole aspect of performance to it as well,” Dearth said. “It’s something that’s really enjoyed by all ages. Kids love it and seniors love it.”

But it’s not just tap on display here. Beckmann added, “We really try to connect with our audiences. It’s something we specialize in. There’s no fourth wall in our performance. We really get them involved. If you sit close enough to the stage, you might even get dragged up on stage with us.”

They emphasize that this is an all-ages show.

Dearth said, “One of my favorite things about this is that there is very little clean entertainment that you can go to that’s for everybody. This is so nostalgic for the people who lived through these eras, but it’s also something that you can take the entire family to and not worry that there will be something inappropriate.”

As much as the show is fun, the duo also wants to use this as an opportunity to honor veterans and to reexamine what it means to be patriotic. Beckmann shared what they hope to convey when they talk about patriotism.

“There’s a big tendency to conflate patriotism with politics and we make it a point to strip the politics out of patriotism and remember that at its core, patriotism is a being a part of a community that shares a national border. Sometimes it feels like we lose sight of that. I hope that through the show, we can look around the theater and realize we’re all Americans and we’re all people and we all really want the same things, which is to live a good life with the people we love.”

You can purchase tickets for the “Letters from Home: The Fifty States Tour” at morgantownmet.com. They are $25.