The incredible story of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the all Black, all female Army battalion tasked with solving a mail crisis in England and France during World War II, has an inspired the development of a new musical.
The news comes after House voted unanimously on Monday to award one of the country’s highest civilian honors, the Congressional Gold Medal, to the unit. The U.S Senate passed the bill in 2021, so it now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law. When received, the 6888 will be the only female unit serving in a military status to receive the award, the only unit from the Women’s Army Corps to receive the award, and the only African American female unit to receive the award.
The show, which has the working title of “6888: The Musical,” will be executive produced by Blair Underwood. It’s hoping to eventually land on Broadway. The show is being written by Morgan J Smart (book), Ronvé O’Daniel (music and lyrics), and Jevares C. Myrick (composer/orchestrations). It is conceived and produced by Holly Garman and Joe Trentacosta. Ret. U.S. Army Col, Edna Cummings and James Theres will act as the new musical’s historical advisor.
“The women of the 6888 are true American patriots, who are long overdue to have their story told. I am honored to be part of a team bringing their story to the stage,” said Underwood.
There’s certainly a lot of compelling material to work with. The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion were tasked with sorting and routing an overwhelming backlog of more than 17 million pieces of mail that threatened troop morale. In Europe, the unit faced racism and sexism, yet completed the assignment in record time. It’s a story that has been largely overlooked until recently.
“After reading about the 6888 in the New York Times back in September 2020, we immediately knew that the story of these incredible women had to be brought to the stage. It is thrilling that the 6888 are finally being awarded Congressional Gold Medals at the exact moment that our creative team came together this year,” said Garman.
Adds Trentacosta, “We’re truly honored to help bring this piece of hidden U.S. history to life and celebrate the remarkable achievements of these extraordinary women,”
Smart has written three musicals “Our Mother’s Mothers,” “Awakened,” and “Shadows.” O’Daniel’s and Myrick’s show “Once Upon a Rhyme” has been produced at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley New Works Festival, Eugene O’Neill National Music Theater Conference, Johnny Mercer Writers Colony Residency at Goodspeed Theater, and N.Y.U. Tisch School for the Arts.
Underwood was nominated for a Tony for his work in the revival of “A Soldier’s Play.” As a theatrical producer, he was recently represented on Broadway with the acclaimed production
of “Pass Over.” He will soon executive produce and reprise his role of Jonathan Rollins in the upcoming reboot of “L.A. Law” for ABC, and he will be featured in the upcoming Showtime series, “Three Women,” alongside Shailene Woodley, DeWanda Wise and Betty Gilpin.
Garman is currently the press representative for Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, and the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick among others. Trentacosta has represented productions Broadway and Off-Broadway shows as president of J.T. Public Relations.