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Abe Lincoln in Song: ‘The Lincolns of Springfield’

A musical look at the lives of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd

Posted: June 4, 2009 4:26 p.m.
Updated: June 5, 2009 6:05 a.m.

Rosemary Blankson, left, plays Elizabeth Keckley, Garrett Deagon, center, plays the young Abraham Lincoln and Melissa Strauss plays Mary Todd in "The Lincolns of Springfield" on June 12 and 13.

 
"The Lincolns of Springfield," is a musical play about the lives of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. It is rich with melodies and songs and can be enjoyed by the entire family. There are expressions of familial love, Lincoln-esque humor and a rendition of American history.

Performance dates are June 12 and 13 at 8 p.m. at the Church on the Way of Santa Clarita, 23415 Cinema Drive (formerly The Mann Theatre), with state of the art lighting, sound and seating.

The show stars singer Rosemary Blankson, best known to Southern Californians for her performance in "Smokey Joe's Café," who plays Elizabeth Keckley. Melissa Strauss, whose stage and night club performances in both New York City and Los Angeles have won her critical acclaim, plays Mary Todd.

Also starring is Santa Clarita's own Richard McNally, as Tom Lincoln, Abe Lincoln's father. McNally has appeared on professional stages throughout California in major roles ranging from Shakespearean comedy to musical theater to drama.

Santa Clarita's own Garrett Deagon plays the young Abraham Lincoln. Deagon's return to the Santa Clarita stage follows several years of professional television and stage work.

The show is staged with period costuming and multimedia effects, including authentic photographic projections of characters and locations just as they are re-enacted on stage. The lyrics, book and music were written by Terrence L. Cranert, of the Lehman Engle Musical Theatre Workshop, which developed Broadway hits such as "A Chorus Line," "Little Shop of Horrors," "Annie" and "Beauty and the Beast."

The story line of the play is an historically accurate retelling of the lives of the young Abe and Mary, how they met, their romance, and how they married, Abe's rise to the presidency and their lives together in the White House - told against the backdrop of the Civil War period.

Lincoln scholars at the Huntington Library in Pasadena studied the entire script to ensure its historical accuracy.

This play emphasizes the deep humanity of the Lincolns. Abraham Lincoln has become such an American icon that most people think of him as the stern marble statue in the Lincoln Monument when, in fact, he was well known for his sense of humor.

Some historians have been unkind to Mary Todd. Others are more respectful, emphasizing Mary's strong influence upon Abe and her support of his aspirations. They state, in fact, that there is every possibility that Abraham Lincoln would never have been president had it not been for Mary Todd. The Lincolns of Springfield story adheres to that kind historical vision of Mary Todd Lincoln.
The character of Elizabeth Keckley carries the show. Unknown to many people, this woman, a well educated former slave, was Mary Lincoln's closest friend during the White House years and, in fact, was Mary's sole comfort at the time of Abe Lincoln's assassination.

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