Review: MRS. LINCOLN at Little Theatre Of Mechanicsburg

A fascinating and engaging performance

By: Jun. 02, 2024
Review: MRS. LINCOLN at Little Theatre Of Mechanicsburg
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Thomas Cullinan’s play Mrs. Lincoln premiered at the Cleveland Playhouse in 1968. The play takes place in 1875, ten years after the death of Abraham Lincoln. It explores thought-provoking and relatable themes such as grief, mental illness, public perception versus reality, and more as it gives the audience a glimpse into Mary Todd Lincoln’s inner turmoil during her time at Bellevue Place Sanitarium in Illinois. Mrs. Lincoln is an intense and fascinating play, and audiences can catch it at Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg under the direction of James Casey with stage manager Lori Haagen through June 23rd.

The set, costumes, props, lighting, and sound are beautifully designed and transport the audience into Mrs. Lincoln’s room at the Sanitarium in 1875. The use of a scrim and careful lighting allows the audience to also see scenes from Mrs. Lincoln’s memory and dreams, which feature her son Robert, her husband’s partner at the law firm Billy Herndon, her sister Emilie Todd, and her dressmaker Lizzie Keckley. The cast stars Mary Eckrote (Emilie Todd), Ashley Cherry (Lizzie Keckley), Anthony Ariano (Billy Herndon/Verteran), Mitchell Kubasko (Robert Lincoln), Nate Kubasko (Dr. Patterson), Dahlia Dixon (Sally), and Tara Mead (Mrs. Lincoln). Eckrote, Cherry, Ariano, and Mitchell Kubasko are tasked with portraying characters from Mrs. Lincoln’s memory. Each of these actors are wonderful story tellers, and they do a terrific job using their voices, posture, and facial expressions to give the audience a sense of their character and relationship with Mrs. Lincoln, even from behind a scrim.

Ariano also appears as a fellow patient, a veteran who was known for skilled imitations. This may be one of Ariano’s best roles to date. His performance is heartfelt and so believable that the audience cannot help but feel heartbroken when his character gets lost in his Lincoln impression. Mitchell Kubasko’s performance as Robert Lincoln is beautifully emotional and nuanced—allowing the audience to see Robert’s anger and frustration mixed with a deep love and caring for his mother. Nate Kubasko takes on the role of Dr. Patterson. He infuses Dr. Patterson with a level of maturity that belies his youth, playing the character with just the right amount of arrogance and exasperation. Dixon and Mead give stellar performances as Sally and Mrs. Lincoln. The interactions between these two actors are intense and engaging. Dixon’s facial expressions and movements are perfectly crafted to bring Sally to life. Mead portrays Mrs. Lincoln with a lovely balance of strength and vulnerability.

Every aspect of this production works well together to bring the audience an intriguing and powerful evening of theatre. Visit ltmpa.com for more information on Mrs. Lincoln.



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