Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater and Connecticut Heritage Productions are joining creative forces this holiday season with a co-production of Paula Vogel's A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration. The play will be performed at Oddfellows Playhouse from December 6-15.
of Paula Vogel’s original sources of inspiration for writing this play
was to create a truly unique American Christmas production. So many of
our standard holiday cultural pieces are imported from other countries –
A Christmas Carol, the Nutcracker, and so forth,” said Peter Loffredo,
artistic director of Connecticut Heritage Productions.
play, directed by Loffedo, will feature a multi-generational cast of
actors from the community, including members of Oddfellows’ Teen
Repertory Company. The Connecticut Humanities Council is generously
helping to fund this production because of its unique combination of
historical significance, audience appeal, and educational
play is set is Washington, D.C., on Christmas Eve 1864, during the
Civil War. President Lincoln has just been reelected and General
Sherman is marching troops into battle. Interweaving historical figures
with fictional characters, A Civil War Christmas not only entertains
but inspires the audience by portraying the real-life struggles that
occurred and the human spirit that endured during one of the most
difficult times in our history. Moving swiftly from scene to scene, it
chronicles many aspects of the period, from something of the private
life of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln to the moving story of an
African-American soldier whose wife has been cruelly kidnapped.
Christmas carols and folk songs are sung throughout by the ensemble,
with additional period music performed by a group of instrumentalists.
A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration,
was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, with
music by Daryl Waters. Vogel is the former chair of the playwrighting
department of Yale University and a writer-in-residence. The show
premiered at Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, CT, in 2008, after which
it was transferred to Boston's Huntington Theatre Company in 2009. it
is scheduled to have its off-Broadway debut in New York City this month.
and CHP have joined forces on various projects in the past, including
Higher Ground, an original play dramatizing the long struggle of
African-Americans for freedom and equality, and the Connecticut Valley
Student Playwriting Competition. They approached this production with
the goal of bringing together various perspectives and members of the
community to explore the theme of life in wartime during the Christmas
“Our country has just concluded a very
fiercely contended national election. The differences were sharp and
deep. Spending time delving deeply into the American Civil War and the
issues has provided the cast with not only a deeper understand of our
nation’s history, but also another lens through which to view our
current political climate. We are excited to bring this play to our
community to further this discussion,” said Oddfellows’ Executive
Director Matt Pugliese.
Director Peter Loffredo has
incorporated historian/novelist Richard Slotkin and ethnomusicologist
Ellen Lueck into the production process to help enlighten the cast about
the play’s historical significance and provide community conversations
on performance evenings with the audience. Slotkin will lead a talkback
following the performance on Friday 12/7 about the actual history
covered in the play, and Lueck will lead a conversation regarding the
musical history of the folk songs and carols on Friday 12/14.
The production runs December 6, 7, 8, 13,14, 15 at Oddfellows Playhouse.
All performances are at 7:30pm. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for
students and seniors. Thursday December 6 and 13 is a Pay-What-You-Can
Performance. Please bring a non-perishable food item to donate to
Amazing Grace Food Pantry. Tickets are available online at ww.oddfellows.org
or by calling860-347-6143. The performance is made possible through
special funding from the Connecticut Humanities Council, The Middletown
Commission on the Arts, and Eli Cannon’s Tap Room.