The Civil War (musical)

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The Civil War
Civil war.musical.jpg
Original Recording
Music Frank Wildhorn
Lyrics Jack Murphy
Book Gregory Boyd
Frank Wildhorn
Productions 1998 Houston
1999 Broadway
2000 US National Tour
2009 Washington, D.C.
For the Robert Wilson opera, see the CIVIL warS.

The Civil War is a musical written by Gregory Boyd and Frank Wildhorn, with lyrics by Jack Murphy and music by Wildhorn. The musical centers on the American Civil War, with the musical numbers portraying the war through Union, Confederate, and slave viewpoints. The musical was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical. Its styles include Gospel, Folk, Country, Rock, and Rhythm and Blues.

Production history[edit]

A studio cast album was released in 1999 by Atlantic Records, and included Linda Eder, Maya Angelou, James Garner, Hootie & the Blowfish, Travis Tritt, Dr. John, and Betty Buckley.[1] The musical had its world premiere at the Alley Theatre, Houston, Texas, on September 16, 1998, where co-author Boyd is the Artistic Director.[2] The production was supervised by Gregory Boyd, with musical staging by George Faison and staging by Nick Corley. The cast featured Linda Eder (Hanna Hopes), Keith Byron Kirk (Frederick Douglas), Beth Leavel (Mrs. Lydia Bixby/Violet), Jesse Lenat (Autolycus Fell), Capathia Jenkins (Hope Jackson), Matt Bogart (Pvt. Nathaniel Taylor) and Michael Lanning (Capt. Emmet Lochran).[3]

The musical premiered on Broadway at the St. James Theatre on April 22, 1999 and closed on June 13, 1999, running for 61 performances and 35 previews. Directed by Jerry Zaks with musical staging by Luis Perez, the cast featured Leavel as Mabel/Mrs. Bixby, Kirk as Frederick Douglas, Bogart as Private Sam Taylor, and Leo Burmester as Autolycus Fell.

The musical toured in the United States, starting in January 2000 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The original cast of 28 had been reduced to 15. "Rather than playing individual characters, they all play everyman - a soldier, a wife, a nurse, a girlfriend, a slave." Stephen Rayne directed, with a cast that included Larry Gatlin alternating with John Schneider, and BeBe Winans.[4]

The Civil War was one of the productions produced at the newly renovated Ford's Theatre (Washington, DC), running from March 27, 2009 through May 24. Directed by Jeff Calhoun, the 16-member cast featured Jarrod Emick, Eleasha Gamble, Michael Lanning, and Timothy Shew, with the recorded voice of Hal Holbrook as Lincoln. The production is conceived in a concert setting.[5]

In 2006, a new version of the musical opened at the Majestic Theatre in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Called For the Glory: The Civil War Musical in Gettysburg, it featured two new songs and a new structure.[6]

Songs[edit]

(Note: as presented on Broadway, 1999)

Response[edit]

The Variety review of the Alley Theatre production noted that the show was not "a traditional musical as a revue-style presentation of a song cycle. Wildhorn and co-creators Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd impose precious little narrative structure on "The Civil War," preferring instead to integrate individual, self-contained vignettes as elements in a thematically consistent but essentially bookless concert." The production uses "Rear-screen projections of photos, paintings and letters evoke the period setting".[3]

It was panned by critics including The New York Times, who found it "generic...without plot and essentially without character".[7]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1999 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Original Score Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Michel Bell Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Cheryl Freeman Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Civil War amazon.com, retrieved January 6, 2010
  2. ^ World Premieres"Alley Theatre", etrieved January 6, 2010
  3. ^ a b Leydon, Joe. "The Civil War", Variety, September 28, 1998 - October 4, 1998, p. 188
  4. ^ Morris, Terry. "'The Civil War' To Charge Into Downtown Cincy", Dayton Daily News (Ohio), January 16, 2000, p. 2C
  5. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Emmick, Leggs, Lanning, Gamble, Shew Among Wildhorn's Civil War Re-Enactors at Ford's Theatre", playbill.com, March 6, 2009
  6. ^ Gettysburg Welcomes Wildhorn's "New" Civil War Musical, For the Glory. Playbill.com, June 15, 2006. Accessed March 13, 2010.
  7. ^ Brantley, Ben. Theatre Review: History Soldiering OnThe New York Times, April 23, 1999. Retrieved November 19, 2006.

External links[edit]