Lt. Herschel D. Ponder

On Sunday, June 29, at 2:30 p.m., Cumberland County Playhouse presents "Ponder Anew: A WWII Warrior’s Story." Carol Ponder and Robert Kiefer, long-time Nashville theater favorites, perform this play with music. Adapted from the WWII memoir of Carol’s father, Lt. Herschel D. Ponder — a fighter pilot who flew P-47 Thunderbolts in Europe — this moving production evokes the essence of war and warriors: their victories, sacrifices, loyalty and the sweet pain of coming home. Response from combat veterans and people from all walks of life has been tremendous.

In his memoir, Lt. Ponder wrote of his fears, his joys and his struggle to remain human during and after an inhumane war. By turns warm, funny, tragic and poignant, "Ponder Anew" premiered as part of The Hermitage Artists’ Retreat Series at the Historic Asolo Theater in Sarasota, FL, and has been presented in over 30 venues in five states, including The Monteagle Assembly, TN, and Middle Tennessee State University.

The discussions after the performance — an integral part of this show — are always rich with shared experiences. After WW II, Lt. Ponder lived with PTSD and other challenges; however, he found joy in creating a rich life for himself and his family. In 1989, after 45 years, he finally found real relief in writing his memoir. His words of war and peace, with songs from the era and the North Carolina mountains, are a powerful stimulus that inspires combat survivors and their friends and families to open up about their own experiences. Praised by members of the military, their families, and psychologists, "Ponder Anew" helps audiences understand what we ask of those in our Armed Forces — and profoundly thanks those men and women for their service.

Carol and Robert have been theater and music professionals for over 40 years. Carol is an award-winning singer of Americana and, like her father, is a consummate storyteller. An accomplished actor and director, Robert specializes in creating one-person shows. His production of Elizabeth Davidson’s "Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Literary Soldier" was featured at Bowdoin College as part of the celebration of the abolitionist author’s 200th birthday and continues to play across the country. Carol and Robert are delighted to be working together to perform this powerful and valuable work of art. "Ponder Anew" is sponsored by Courage Beyond at Centerstone. Admission to this event is free.

For information about "Ponder Anew: A WWII Warrior’s Story," please go to www.carolandrobert.com.

Also at the Playhouse: "Annie Get Your Gun" starring Kellye Cash (rated G, sponsored by Plateau Pediatrics, firearms sponsor: Tabor’s Pawn Shop) through July 11; and "Smoke on the Mountain" (Rated G, sponsored by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store), through August 8. Tickets and information are also available for Southern Stars Symphonic Brass and other events. All CCP productions are made possible through sponsor support, with additional support from the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.