Raise the Flag: Scott Bakula Stars in Shenandoah Revival at Ford's Theatre
By Kenneth Jones
The timely and timeless question, "What is worth fighting for?," is asked anew at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, where the Civil War-set musical Shenandoah opens March 22.
Tony Award winner and Helen Hayes Award nominee Jeff Calhoun (Grease!, Big River) directs and choreographs the revival, which began previews at the historic theatre March 17. Performances continue to April 30.
An opening night guest will be Tony Award winner Philip Rose, the producer, director and co-librettist of the 1975 musical.
"Tony nominee and Golden Globe winner Scott Bakula appears in the role of Charlie Anderson, the family patriarch, who tries to keep the Civil War at bay and his family safe as the battle spreads and threatens their very existence," according to Ford's Theatre.
The score includes muscular songs for the clutch of Anderson sons, who are pulled into war; hymn and ballads and plaintive laments for the women; ponderous up-tempos for the juvenile players; and a central soliloquy — called "Meditation (This Land Don't Belong to Virginia)" — about land, ownership and identity, for the strong-willed patriarch Charles Anderson. James Stewart played the father in the 1965 film of the same name.
The Shenandoah company includes Christopher Bloch, Peter Boyer, Evan Casey, Kevin Clay, Rick Faugno, Richard Frederick, Aaron Hilliard, Ryan Jackson, Megan Lewis, Timothy Dale Lewis, Garrett Long, Mike Mainwaring, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Geoff Packard, Richard Pelzman, Zack Phillips, Noah Racey, Aaron Ramey, Andrew Samonsky, Stephen F. Schmidt, Bret Shuford, Brian Sutherland and Danny Tippett. Jim Carnahan is casting director.
Shenandoah received six Tony Award nominations in 1975 (Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Choreography) and won the Tony for Best Book and Best Actor (John Cullum).
It became one of the longest running shows of the 1970s, playing as the Vietnam War was winding down.
The musical has book by James Lee Barrett, Peter Udell and Philip Rose; music by Gary Geld; lyrics by Peter Udell. It was based on the 1965 screenplay by James Lee Barrett.
According to Ford's Theatre notes, "The authors wrote their Civil War musical in the 1970s in response to the war in Vietnam. More than 30 years after its original production on Broadway, Shenandoah and its primary question, 'what is worth fighting for?' continue to resonate with audiences."
Calhoun directed and choreographed the Deaf West production of Big River on Broadway for the Roundabout Theatre (Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations, Best Revival of a Musical, Drama Desk nomination for Best Director of a Musical), as well as at the Mark Taper Forum and Deaf West Theater (Ovation and L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards for both direction and choreography).
Calhoun's Big River, which played at Ford's, is up for several 2006 Helen Hayes Awards, including Best Director of a Musical. The Hayes Awards celebrate excellence in resident DC theatre.
Calhoun directed and choreographed the Broadway revival of Grease! and snagged a Tony nomination for Best Choreography.
Bakula debuted on Broadway as Joe DiMaggio in Marilyn: An American Fable and received a Tony nomination for his starring role in Romance/Romance.
The production team includes Steven Landau (musical direction, arrangements, orchestrations); Tobin Ost (set and costume designer); Michael Gilliam (lighting designer); David Budries' (sound designer); David Leong (fight/military choreography); Chase Brock (choreography); Coy Middlebrooks (associate director); Tom Watson (wig and hair designer).
Shenandoah was revived on Broadway in 1989, with John Cullum reprising his 1975 role, but the run lasted only 31 performances.
The musical numbers in the show include "Freedom," "Pass the Cross," "We Make a Beautiful Pair," "It's a Boy," "I've Heard It All Before," "Meditation (This Land Don't Belong To Virginia)," "Next to Lovin' (I Like Fightin' Best)," "The Only Home I Know," "Over the Hill," "Papa's Gonna Make It Alright," "The Pickers Are Comin'," "Raise the Flag," "Violets and Silverbells" and "Why Am I Me?"
Gary Geld, Peter Udell and Philip Rose's previous collaboration on Broadway was Purlie.
For more information, call (202) 347-4833 or visit www.fordstheatre.org.
Ford's Theatre Society is a not-for-profit corporation created to produce live entertainment on Ford's historic stage. Paul R. Tetreault is producing director. "In tribute to President Abraham Lincoln's love of the performing arts, Ford's Theatre produces plays and musicals that underscore our country's multiculturalism and illuminate the eclectic character of American life."
Ford's has produced more than two dozen world premieres.
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