The season's last original Broadway score arrives tonight, April 22, when the new Frank Wildhorn and Gregory Boyd musical, The Civil War, opens fire at the St. James Theatre. Previews began March 23 for this oratorio about the bloodiest conflict in American history.
Also in the cast are Matt Bogart (Miss Saigon), Gilles Chiasson (Rent), Lawrence Clayton (Dreamgirls), Dave Clemmons (The Scarlet Pimpernel), Mike Eldred, David Michael Felty, Hope Harris, Capathia Jenkins, Keith Byron Kirk (A New Brain), Michael Lanning, Beth Leavel, David M. Lutken (The Will Rogers Follies), Gene Miller, Irene Molloy, Wayne Pretlow, Jim Price, Royal Reed, Christopher Roberts, John Sawyer, Ron Sharpe, Bart Shatto and Cassandra White.
Songs in The Civil War include "Judgment Day," "River Jordan," "Sarah," "Last Waltz For Dixie" and "The Honor of Your Name."
With the arrival of Civil War, Wildhorn will have three shows simultaneously running on Broadway, the others being Jekyll & Hyde and The Scarlet Pimpernel. To celebrate his hitting the Trifecta, Wildhorn was honored by the Broadway community in a March 24 Tribute at the St. James. Douglas Sills hosted the event, which included songs and performers from the three abovementioned Wildhorn tuners, including a "special rendition" of J & H's "This Is The Moment." The Civil War , which has lyrics by Jack Murphy and a book by Alley Theatre (where the show originated) artistic director Boyd, draws from original Civil War-era documents for its subject matter. The authors raided correspondence, diaries, newspaper accounts, speeches by Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, even the poetry of Walt Whitman, to communicate the real life experiences of the soldiers and civilians who endured the war. Docu director Ken Burns created a critically acclaimed mini-series "The Civil War," based on similar materials a few years back.
Jerry Zaks directs The Civil War, while Luis Perez provides the musical staging. The design crew features Douglas W. Schmidt (sets), Paul Gallo (lights), William Ivey Long (costumes), Karl Richardson (sound) and Wendall K. Harrington (projections).
As a special opening night fanfare, members of the 3rd New Jersey Infantry Drum & Fife Corps will play for audience members entering the theatre. The after-show party will be held at Roseland. Dubbed "Fort Roseland" for the night, the venue will be decorated with muslin and lanterns to look like a giant tent. "The Flying Neutrinos" band will play for the assembled at the party.
Released by Atlantic Records, the "concept" CD of The Civil War features performances Hootie and the Blowfish, Dr. John, Patti LaBelle, Amy Grant, Bebe Winans, Betty Buckley, Linda Eder, Maya Angelou, James Garner, Danny Glover, and Ellen Burstyn. Another Civil War CD, "The Nashville Sessions," has also been released with famed country music stars Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood, Deana Carter and Charlie Daniels. An original Broadway cast recording will be released later this summer.
Civil War is produced by Pierre Cosette, PACE Theatrical Group, Bomurwil Productions, Kathleen Raitt, Magicworks Entertainment, Inc., and Jujamcyn Theaters.
For information on The Civil War call (212) 239-6200.