Celebrating Lincoln's Bicentennial, Musical Abe Will Premiere in Illinois in 2009

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18 Jun 2008

The founding fathers got their own musical with 1776, so why not Abe? A new musical about the early life of Abraham Lincoln will premiere in 2009 in Quincy, IL, site of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debate.



Muddy River Opera Company, a professional resident troupe in Quincy — southwest of Chicago and north of St. Louis — will premiere Abe the Musical, written by lyricist-librettist Lee Goldsmith and composer Roger Anderson, on Feb. 20, 2009.

Next year marks the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth. Anderson and Goldsmith wrote the scores to the musicals Shine, Quality Street and Ladykiller, and the Carbonell Award-winning Chaplin.

According to the authors, Abe concerns the life of Lincoln from his youth as a flatboat pilot on the Mississippi up to the moment he and his family leave Springfield for Washington after the 1860 election, which made him the 16th president of the United States. The play explores his early love for Ann Rutledge, his troubled marriage to the difficult and mentally fragile Mary Todd, and his attempt to be a good father to his sons.

Audiences can expect a full orchestra and a large cast for the traditional book musical.

Although the book and lyrics were originally written by Goldsmith in the 1970s, the project lay dormant until Muddy River Opera Company's artistic director, Avril-Marie Bernzen, requested its completion for the upcoming 2009 season.

Earlier this year, Goldsmith's longtime collaborator Anderson began work on the now nearly completed score, "which uses bold, melodic and traditional musical theatre styles that embrace the story's period and Americana roots," composer Anderson said.

The Muddy River Opera Company was founded in 1989 and presents two to four productions a year — works from the opera repertoire as well as musicals. Abe will be the company's first world premiere.

Director, cast and creative team have not been announced.

For information about Muddy River Opera Company (Quincy is on the Mississippi River, hence the troupe's name), call (217) 222-2856. For information about Abe and other works of Anderson and Goldsmith, contact Musical Makers, LLC, at jeffh123@bellsouth.net.