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Archive for Sunday, June 2, 2002

revives Civil War stories

June 2, 2002

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Lawrence Community Theatre is making history by presenting a new Civil War-inspired play.

LCT is the first nonprofit theater to stage "Reunion: A Musical Epic in Miniature."

The new musical opened at the Goodspeed Opera House in New Haven, Conn., and then played Off-Broadway at the Amas Theatre in New York City and the Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C.

"I read about it in a magazine when it was playing Off-Broadway," said Mary Doveton, the theater's managing/artistic director.

"Peg Sampson (who chairs the play selection committee at the Lawrence theater) saw it at the Ford Theatre and came back raving, so we doubled our efforts to get it here."

"Reunion" is the retelling of the Civil War, from the northern perspective, within the framework of a 1890s vaudeville-like show.

The play is set 25 years after President Lincoln's assassination.

"The troupe of traveling actors is led by Harry Hawk, a historical figure who was onstage when Lincoln was assassinated," said Doveton, who is directing the play.

The troupe's eight actors assume various roles and tell the story of the war through the eyes of soldiers, nurses, journalists and slaves on the Underground Railroad.

Lincoln's secretary and Gen. George McClellan also make appearances.

"Much of the dialogue is the actual words from diaries, letters, speeches and newspaper accounts of that time," Doveton said, adding that the actors' storytelling ranges from funny to heart-wrenching.

The musical's book is by Jack Kyrieleison and its traditional music is arranged by Michael O'Flaherty.

The music includes such songs as "Beautiful Dreamer," "Steal Away," "Wasn't That a Wide River," "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground," "John Brown's Body" and "Battle Cry of Freedom."

"To pull things together are images and photographs of the period that will be projected at the back of the stage," she said. "It will have a lot of power. Â It's a really exciting adventure for us."

Cast members are Charles Whitman, Annette Cook, Philip Denton, Genee Figueiras, Mia Goldsmith, Adam Pearce, Granville O'Neal and Anne Stella.

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