START A NEW TRADITION WITH “A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS”
        BONNIE GOLDBERG

    Ten years in the making, Paula Vogel’s “A Civil War Christmas” is an epic production, weaving a tapestry around Washington, D.C. in the year 1864.  The Civil War is still taking a toll on the nation and this historical and musical tale follows a handful of the country’s citizens, both prominent and obscure, on Christmas Eve when the desire for “peace on earth, good will to men” was desired by many, but unfortunately not by all.
    The world premiere of “A Civil War Christmas,” with all its grand narrative and dramatic elements, will  sweep gloriously onto the main stage of New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre  until Sunday, December 21.  It is a magnificent and involving masterpiece of theater that should not be missed.
    A talented cast of fourteen actors bring to life a cadre of ninety in this poignant pageant that takes place of both sides of the Potomac River, on both sides of the conflict.  Follow the stories of Hannah (Bianca Laverne Jones) and her daughter Jessa (alternately played by Faith Philpot and Malenky Welsh) who are escaped slaves searching for freedom on a cold wintery night, a young rebel Raz (Susannah Flood) and horse Silver ( J. D. Goldblatt) who seek adventure and land in a peck of trouble, the poet Walt Whitman (Jay Russell) who offers hope and comfort to the wounded Union soldiers like Moses Levy ( J. D. Goldblatt) and President Lincoln (Jay Russell) who seeks a holiday gift for his wife Mary (Diane Sutherland) while others, led by John Wilkes Booth (Guy Adkins) plot his demise.
    Throughout the vignettes, American tales all, the songs and poetry of our nation punctuate the action beautifully.  Others in this stellar cast include Justin Blanchard, Brian Tyree Henry, Marc Damon Johnson, Ora Jones, Drew McVety, Rachel Shapiro Alderman and Scott Thomas.  Tina Landau directs this inspiring visitation with our past at a timely moment, as we welcome the first African-American president to the White House.
    For tickets ($32-62), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org. ; Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday at 7 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m.  A special symposium with a panel of experts and artists,  including the playwright and Yale University historian David Blight, will follow the Sunday, December 14 matinee performance.
    There is a promise of hope for peace that permeates Paula Vogel’s “A Civil War Christmas” that she would like to establish as a new Christmas tradition for American families.  Catch on to her dream.

This will appear in the Middletown Press on December 11.

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