Frank Wildhorn's New Musical FREEDOM'S SONG and More Set for Ford's Theatre's 2014-15 Season

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Frank Wildhorn's New Musical FREEDOM'S SONG and More Set for Ford's Theatre's 2014-15 Season

Ford's Theatre Director Paul R. Tetreault today announced that the Ford's Theatre 2014-2015 season will include mainstage productions of Driving Miss Daisy, headlined by Nancy Robinette and Craig Wallace, the return of Edward Gero as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, the world premiere of The Widow Lincoln by James Still, and a new musical, Freedom's Song, still in development, inspired by the words of Lincoln and those who lived through the Civil War.

During the spring of 2015, Ford's honors the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln and commemorates 150 years since his assassination at Ford's Theatre with the Ford's 150: Remembering the Lincoln Assassination. In addition to the stage productions, special programming for the Ford's 150 includes: a museum exhibition that will return priceless artifacts connected with the events of Lincoln's assassination to the Ford's Theatre campus for the first time since April 1865; anaround-the-clock vigil on April 14 and 15 marking the events of Lincoln's shooting and death; performances of the Society's one-act plays One Destiny andThe Road From Appomattox; History on Foot walking tours; a series of free panel discussions featuring historians and scholars; Remembering Lincoln: an online collection of personal reactions and artifacts showcasing the response to Abraham Lincoln's death; and more. A full programming schedule will be announced in January 2015.

"Daily at Ford's we seek to honor Lincoln and the tremendous impact his life, leadership and death had on our nation," said Ford's Theatre Director Paul R. Tetreault. "With next year's season, we will celebrate classic stories of generosity and friendship, and pay tribute to one of our nation's greatest leaders through a vast array of engaging events, lectures, exhibitions and vigils on our campus. We welcome all to learn our national history, celebrate Lincoln's life and be inspired by his vision."

Commissioning Initiative: Tetreault also announced that Ford's Theatre is committing to a new commissioning initiative, featuring women playwrights: Jessica Dickey, Elaine Romero andKaren Zacarías. The three are the first of many to be commissioned to write plays for upcoming seasons.

"For too long, plays by women have been underrepresented on the American theatre stage," Tetreault said. "Ford's is making a commitment to showcasing women's voices and to developing new plays that explore the American experience and Lincoln's legacy. In addition to participating in the fall 2015 Women's Voices Theatre Festival in Washington, we have commissioned three amazing playwrights to develop work for us."

Frank Wildhorn's New Musical FREEDOM'S SONG and More Set for Ford's Theatre's 2014-15 SeasonFord's Theatre 2014-2015 Programming

Driving Miss Daisy
Featuring Nancy Robinette and Craig Wallace
By Alfred Uhry
Directed by Jennifer L. Nelson
September 26-October 26, 2014
When Daisy Werthan causes a car wreck, her son hires hard-working chauffer Hoke Colburn to look after her. What begins as a hostile clashing of wills between a stubborn Jewish matriarch and a proud black man evolves into a decades-long friendship as the two navigate Civil Rights-era Atlanta. With humor and heartfelt emotion, Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning play poignantly explores the transformative power of true friendship. Acclaimed Washington stage actors Nancy Robinette and Craig Wallace return to Ford's to perform in this beloved classic.

A Christmas Carol
Edward Gero Returns as Scrooge
By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Michael Wilson
Directed by Michael Baron
November 20, 2014-January 1, 2015
The annual Ford's Theatre production of A Christmas Carol has been a Washington tradition for more than 30 years. Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of transformation and redemption. Originally conceived by Michael Baron, this music-infused production captures the magic and joy of Dickens's Yuletide classic. Celebrated Washington stage actor Edward Gero returns to play Scrooge in the production The Washington Posthailed as "musically high-spirited" and "infectiously jolly."

The Widow Lincoln (World Premiere)
By James Still
Directed by Stephen Rayne
January 23-February 22, 2015
Ridiculed for her elaborate White House redecorations and extravagant expenditures, Mary Todd Lincoln sparked more controversy than any First Lady before or since. Set during the weeks following Abraham Lincoln's murder at Ford's Theatre, The Widow Lincoln portrays a very human Mary in the aftermath of her husband's death as she mourns the post-war life they will never share. Playwright James Still (The Heavens Are Hung in Black) returns with an emotional drama that explores the tenacious attitudes and heartbreaking grief of the maligned "Mrs. President." Ford's Theatre commissioned this world premiere as part of the Ford's 150, a series of events commemorating the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's assassination.

Freedom's Song
Abraham Lincoln and The Civil War
By Frank Wildhorn, Gregory Boyd and Jack Murphy
Music by Frank Wildhorn
Adapted by Richard Hellesen and Mark Ramont
Directed by Jeff Calhoun
March 13-May 16, 2015
This epic, concert-style musical features the words of Abraham Lincoln and music inspired by those who lived through the Civil War. With rousing music and stirring speeches, the musical evokes the soaring hopes and tragic losses of the real people of Civil War America. Jeff Calhoun (Broadway's Newsies) returns to direct this lively historical opus. Ford's Theatre is developing this work as part of the Ford's 150, a series of events commemorating the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's assassination.

SPECIAL EXHIBITION
March 16-May 25, 2015
Center for Education and Leadership (514 Tenth Street NW, Washington, DC)
This special exhibition at the Center for Education and Leadership will commemorate the assassination and death of Abraham Lincoln with a hallmark exhibit that reunites-for the first time since April 1865-an extraordinary collection of artifacts that resided in Ford's Theatre and on Lincoln's person. Included within the exhibition are the contents of Lincoln's pockets, top hat and the blood-stained handkerchief he carried the night of his assassination; and much more. The exhibition is presented in partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Loaning institutions include the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum; Library of Congress; Pike County Historical Society; and others.

April 14 and 15 Commemorations
Beginning April 14, 2015, Ford's Theatre will host around-the-clock programming to commemorate Abraham Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theatre and his death the following morning at the Petersen House. A full schedule will include historical interpretation, lunch-hour panel discussions with noted historians and authors, behind-the-scenes tours, staged readings, Civil War music and a candlelight vigil. More will be announced in January 2015.

Remembering Lincoln: Digital Archive
In 1865, as people around the nation and around the world learned of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, they recorded their reactions in many forms-from written materials like diaries and letters to decorative items like ribbons and flags. With submissions from the general public, scholars, museums and other national institutions, Ford's Theatre will compile, digitize and share responses (newspapers, letters, diaries, photos, objects) to the president's murder and its aftermath on an interactive website. Remembering Lincoln will serve as a resource for students, teachers, scholars, enthusiasts and everyone else to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Remembering Lincoln is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The online collection will be launched in early 2015. Learn more at www.fords.org/remembering-lincoln.

One Destiny
By Richard Hellesen; Directed by Mark Ramont
March through July 2015
Learn about Lincoln's assassination from two men who were there. This 35-minute play at Ford's Theatre explores the key facts of the assassination while capturing the emotions of that fateful night in 1865, as told through the eyewitness accounts of actor Harry Hawk and Ford's Theatre co-owner Harry Ford, among others. As they reconstruct the sequence of events, they grapple with the question: Could John Wilkes Booth have been stopped? One Destiny was honored with The Washington Post Award for Innovative Leadership in the Theatre Community in 2011, and celebrates its 700th performance in June 2014. Spring 2015 performance dates and times to be announced.

History on Foot Walking Tours:
Investigation: Detective McDevitt

By Richard Hellesen; Directed by Mark Ramont
March through October
Join Detective McDevitt as he re-visits and re-examines the sites and clues surrounding the assassination of our nation's 16th president. This outdoor tour lasts approximately two hours and makes at least eight stops. The distance walked is 1.6 miles from outside of Ford's Theatre to the White House. Please wear comfortable shoes. Virtual McDevitt tours and Virtual Field Trips to Ford's Theatre are also available using IP-based video conferencing. Email education@fords.org for more information.

A Free Black Woman: Elizabeth Keckly
By Jennifer L. Nelson
Spring 2015
Join Elizabeth Keckly, free black woman and confidante to First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, as she tells the story of her friendship with the Lincoln family and of her efforts to help former slaves find their way in newly free Washington City. This outdoor tour lasts approximately 90 minutes and the distance walked is about 1.5 miles. Please wear comfortable shoes.

Commissioning Initiative: The Ford's Theatre Society has commissioned the following playwrights to develop work for upcoming theatrical seasons at the historic theatre.

Playwright Jessica Dickey is creator of the acclaimed The Amish Project and Charles Ives Take Me Home. The New Yorker called her most recent play, Row After Row, about Civil War reenators, "funny, sad, deep and smart... beautifully written." The New York Times hailed her as a "talent to watch," praising her writing for its "freshness, economy, occasional cheeky vulgarity and poetic insight." Twice nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn prize, her plays have been developed and produced at Cherry Lane Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, City Theatre, American Theater Company, The Wilma, New Harmony Project, Sewanee Writers Conference, People's Light and Theater, and others.

Award-winning playwright Elaine Romero's plays include Barrio Hollywood, Secret Things, Curanderas!, Serpents of the Clouds, Graveyard of Empires (Blue Ink Playwriting Award), The Fat-Free Chicana and the Snow Cap Queen, and her U.S./Mexican border trilogy Wetback, Mother of Exiles and Untitled. She also premiered Secret Things and These People in 2013. Romero's work has been presented at the Goodman Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alley Theatre, American Blues Theater, San Diego Repertory Theatre, and many others. Recent commissions include: Goodman Theatre, NNPN/Kitchen Dog Theater (Ponzi, Edgerton) and InterAct Theatre Company. Romero is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, with works currently in development with the Goodman Playwrights Unit.

Karen Zacarías's plays include The Book Club Play, Legacy of Light, Mariela in the Desert, The Sins of Sor Juana, the adaptation of Helen Thorpe's immigration policy memoir Just Like Us, and the adaptation of Julia Alvarez's How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent. Zacarías recently adapted Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence(Arena Stage) and the celebrated libretto of The Sun Also Rises (Washington Ballet). Her plays have been produced at Kennedy Center, Arena, Goodman, Round House, The Denver Center, Alliance Theater, Imagination Stage, GALA, Berkshire Theater Festival, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Cleveland Playhouse, and others. Zacarías is a playwright-in-residence at Arena Stage, and teaches at Georgetown University.

Ford's Theatre Society: One of the most visited sites in the nation's capital, Ford's Theatre reopened its doors in 1968, more than a hundred years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Operated through a partnership between Ford's Theatre Society and the National Park Service, Ford's Theatre is the premier destination in the nation's capital to explore and celebrate Abraham Lincoln's ideals and leadership principles: courage, integrity, tolerance, equality and creative expression.

The Ford's Theatre Society was founded under the guidance of executive producerFrankie Hewitt, who, during her 35-year tenure, established Ford's as a living, working theatre producing performances that highlighted the diversity of the American experience. Since the arrival of Paul R. Tetreault as Director, critics and the theatregoing public have recognized Ford's for the superior quality of its artistic programming. With works from the nationally acclaimed Big River to the world premieres of Meet John Doe, The Heavens Are Hung In Black, Liberty Smith andNecessary Sacrifices, Ford's Theatre is making its mark on the American theatre landscape. Under the leadership of Wayne R. Reynolds, Board of Trustees Chairman Emeritus (Chairman 2007 to 2012), the mission of Ford's Theatre Society expanded to include education as a central pillar. This expansion led to the creation and construction of the Center for Education and Leadership, which opened in February 2012. Currently, under the leadership of Board of Trustees Chairman Eric A. Spiegel, Ford's enters a second phase of strategic planning to ensure the organization's place as a national destination for exploring Lincoln's legacy and the American experience through the intersection of history, performance and education.

For more information on Ford's Theatre and the Ford's Theatre Society, visit www.fords.org.

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