Witnesses to a New Birth of Freedom
Reunion, A Civil War Musical Epic in Miniature
A traveling company of 19th Century actors weaves a 2-act musical epic of the fight to save the Union, fusing period songs, stories and images in a unique stage narrative of the struggle to preserve the Union in the American Civil War. Since its premiere at Goodspeed Opera House, Reunion has been produced Off-Broadway, at Ford’s Theatre, and by regional, educational and community theatres nationwide.
Twenty-five years to the day after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the curtain opens on Harry Hawk, actor-manager of a band of wandering actors that has clearly seen better days. He welcomes us to Reunion: A Musical Epic in Miniature!, “the story of the late War to Save the Union, woven from the very words of those engaged in that heroic struggle!”
What follows are two hours at the crossroads of entertainment and history, what The New York Times called “a small packed theater of war, a series of strategic encounters of history, minstrelsy and melodrama; of music as entertainment, catharsis and patriotic gore; of a small band of players and a vast national enterprise.”
In styles ranging from the most intimate storytelling to the extravagant excesses of Victorian theatre, vaudeville and the minstrel show, Harry Hawk’s versatile actor-singers share the journeys of Union men and women swept up in the tide of war, with the aid of the “magic lantern” projecting powerful photographs and images behind the actors. And before the curtain comes down, we will relive Harry Hawk’s unique part in that story.
Critical Praise for Reunion, a Civil War Musical Epic in Miniature
From the New York Times, who said “Reunion should be seen across the country” to local newspapers and radio around the country, critics have had some great things to say about Reunion. Check out our one-page review flyer. Or view the highlights video to see PBS critics rave about the Ford’s Theatre production.
“Reunion deserves to travel the country the rest of this nation’s days.”Michael Kilian
Reunion and History
Reunion’s central character is Abraham Lincoln. From his meteoric rise to the presidency to the final moments when we relive the awful events of Good Friday, 1865, his towering figure presides over the story as it did over the Union itself. Although he never appears on stage, we come to know him through the stories of those whose lives intersected his. And Reunion delivers the unforgettable perspective of Harry Hawk, the one man who can tell how it felt to be standing alone on the stage of Ford’s Theatre when John Wilkes Booth changed the nation’s history.
“A marvelous combination of history and music, drama and humor. True to the history, with wonderful use of original songs to carry the audience through this extraordinary time.”Jeff Shaara
For Teachers & Schools
Reunion makes an ideal partner for middle and high school history courses and Civil War studies. Productions typically generate very high sales among school groups, as it presents the complex issues and events of the war authentically but always with an eye toward entertainment and an irreverence that appeals to teenagers. Reunion works for newcomers as well as longtime Civil War enthusiasts. And our extensive study guide is yours to use for free, full of ideas for expanding the curriculum beyond American history to include English/language arts, science, music and theatre.
About the Music
Like the words of its characters, all of the music in Reunion is from the Civil War era, but with unforgettable new arrangements by Michael O’Flaherty. Scattered among well-known standards like “Beautiful Dreamer” and “Marching Through Georgia” are some unforgettable songs that somehow managed to be forgotten. The surprisingly angry anti-war ballad “All Quiet Along the Potomac Tonight” and the haunting “Wake Nicodemus” are only two of these overlooked jewels. And the impassioned voice of the African-American spiritual reverberates throughout, in such songs as “Steal Away” and “Wasn’t That a Wide River”.
“If we’d had your music, sir, we’d have whipped you out of your boots.”Confederate officer to Union officer at Appomattox
Past Productions of the Civil War musical, Reunion
Reunion was first produced as a new work by the renowned Goodspeed Opera House. It followed that with a successful run off-Broadway and a record-breaking stay at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. Later productions have included the Union Theatre at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum and regional, college and community theatres across the country.
Reunion is now available for production from Samuel French, Inc. The script comes with casting breakdowns and dialogue for both the original 6-actor version and the large-cast adaptation, as successfully produced at theatres such as the New York State Theatre Institute. The expanded-cast version is perfect for schools and community theatres, accomodating a cast of 12-36. Its ease of production, flexible casting requirements, proven box office appeal and classroom tie-in potential make Reunion an ideal choice for regional, educational and community theatres. There’s still time to include Reunion as part of your community’s 150th anniversary of the close of the Civil War and assassination of President Lincoln.
“I only wish we’d had the Kleenex concession for the performances!”Mary Doveton