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War - What Is It Good For? 

Good musical theater, apparently.

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Ensemble Theatre opens its 27th season tonight with the world premiere of Let Freedom Ring! , a musical revue that doubles as social satire. "We're living in a time where we all need to hear messages that help get us off our asses and do something to help this country change direction," says co-writer (and local radio personality) Bill Rudman. The production gathers more than 40 war-related songs — everything from 1927's "Strike Up the Band" to 2001's "Tick, Tick . . . Boom!" "The songs bounce off each other," says Rudman. "Even though they were written decades apart."

Let Freedom Ring! , which is subtitled Let Freedom Ring! The Social Conscience of the American MusicalLet Freedom Ring! , includes works by such all-American songwriters as the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, and Frank Loesser. All of them have something to say about the U.S.A. "People don't think of musical theater as being socially aware," says Rudman. "They think of musicals as fluff. But there's a 75-year tradition of songwriters writing about pressing issues facing our society."
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Sept. 1. Continues through Sept. 17

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