Point Park performers take on the story of Mary Todd Lincoln
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The events that took place in Ford’s Theater on the night of April 14, 1865 shook the nation and changed the life of Mary Todd Lincoln forever.
“Crazy Mary Lincoln” is a new musical by Jan Levy Tranen and Jay Schwandt that follows the events occurring after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, centering mainly on the late president’s wife.
“‘Crazy Mary Lincoln’, in a nutshell, is the story of Mary Todd Lincoln after the gunshot,” Andrew Keller, the associate artistic director at Pallas Theatre Collective, said. “The play opens with the unfortunate incident in Ford’s Theater and follows the relationship that Mary Todd Lincoln has with the world around her, with the country, grieving her loss and also with her son, Robert Lincoln.”
As part of the developmental process of the new musical, Keller will be directing a staged reading of the show at Point Park. The reading, Keller said, will give students the opportunity to work with a new script and learn first-hand what really goes into the artistic process of a new show while allowing the creators to see it live.
“The whole purpose of this reading is for [the creators] to recognize final touches that they need to make to their script,” Keller said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
The cast will have under a week to prepare for the staged reading, so audiences should not expect a fully mounted production. Gill Vaughn-Spencer, a freshman musical theatre major who was cast in the production as a merchant, says that the limited time to prepare might be the most difficult part of the process.
“Right now, it’s all on the actors to start learning their stuff,” Vaughn-Spencer said in a phone interview on Friday. “But once we get in, we only have 20 hours with the composer and with the music director to actually work through the show and get it up on its feet.”
Bebe Tabickman, a senior musical theatre major, was cast as Mary Lincoln herself in the upcoming production.
This is her first time working with Pallas Theatre Collective. Tabickman said she is excited to be a part of the developmental process of a new show and to have her performance used as a stepping stone for the creators in the final stages of the show’s progress.
“I think it’s a gift as an artist, really,” Tabickman said in a phone interview Thursday. “We’re told to make each character our own, so not having anything to look back to, I’m really getting to make Mary Lincoln my own.”
Point Park’s performance of “Crazy Mary Lincoln” will be presented on March 22. It will be the last performance of its kind of the production before it is moved to a larger stage in Washington, D.C. this summer.
A full production of “Crazy Mary Lincoln” will be presented June 1-18 in Washington, D.C. at the Logan Fringe Arts Space’s Trinidad Theatre. For more information, visit the Pallas Theatre Collective’s website at pallastheatre.org.