"Civil War Voices"- November 1, 2011
The Grand Theatre, the recently renovated performance space in historic downtown Frankfort, will take note of the area's important Civil War heritage by hosting a historical musical called "Civil War Voices," staged by the Barter Theatre of Abingdon, Va. The play will be presented Nov. 1. Ticket prices vary from $20 to $35.
In an article written for Barter, playwright James R. Harris said the idea for the play came from a journal he discovered by a great-great uncle, an Alabama cotton planter who expressed misgivings about secession.
"The thought struck me that if I could find other true stories of the war and combine them with beautiful new arrangements of music from the period, it could become a wonderful new musical," he wrote.
Starting with his great-great uncle's diary, Harris combined the stories with original source material of three other characters -- a Confederate soldier separated from his family, a professor who becomes a Union war hero, and a former slave who serves in the White House for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.
He then chose composer Mark Harris to provide new arrangements of traditional period music.
"Civil War Voices" has attracted positive reviews as it tours the country. One reviewer, Robert McKinney, said: "'Civil War Voices,'” a stirringly stitched collage of authentic music, letters, remembrances and diary entries brings to life the feelings, hopes and despairs of long-ago-perished people who lived and died during the war that came very close to tearing our nation to shreds. Near-flawless in its presentation by the Barter Theatre’s Stage II, I challenge anyone to go away unmoved."
He added, "The songs, the music and even the spoken words are hauntingly beautiful as if the sounds and words are trying somehow to speak to us through the mists and smokes of time, as if trying to warn us against the same thing happening again."
Another reviewer, Gary Aday, said this, "'Civil War Voices' is an impressive contribution to ---and further justification for--- the Barter’s designation as 'the state theatre of Virginia.'” One hopes that it will tour widely; it deserves to be seen by audiences of all ages. As (director) Susan Boule remarks in her program notes, it is “a reminder to those of us too young to remember—the price of freedom for all, the quiet joy of peace and the resounding, indomitable spirit of every American.'”
Bill Cull, president of the Grand Theatre, said he is delighted to bring "Civil War Voices" to Frankfort to help acknowledge Kentucky's heritage.
"Kentucky played a pivotal role in the Civil War, being the birthplace of both the president of the United States and the president of the Confederacy," Cull said. "We know the outstanding quality of Barter Theatre's presentations, since we've hosted them here before, so we are confident that this play will provide new insights into this important historical period."
Tickets for "Civil War Voices" are available online at http://www.grandtheatrefrankfort.org or by contacting the box office at 1-502-352-7469.