On Nov. 9 and 10, Rome’s Own Musical Ensembles, Rome Area Council for the Arts and the Montessori School of Rome will present “The Civil War.”
Written by Gregory Boyd and Frank Wildhorn, “The Civil War” is a musical that centers on the American Civil War with musical numbers portraying the war from several perspectives including Union, Confederate and slave viewpoints.
It was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical. Pieces in the show include gospel, folk, country, rock and Rhythm and Blues.
“It’s based on actual writings of the time,” said Sam Baltzer, the show’s producer and musical conductor for the event. “It incorporates letters, diary entries and speeches. It’s all factually based.”
Baltzer said there isn’t a defined plot line. Instead, the show moves from musical number to musical number, retracing some of the pivotal points of the war not necessarily in chronological sequence but by they way those events affected the lives of people who recorded their actions and emotions in letters and diaries.
“I really think it’s a balanced treatment of the Civil War,” Baltzer added. “It covers the conflict from at least four different perspectives — from the desire of North to keep the country together, from the South desire to protect their homeland, from the African Americans’ desire for freedom, and from women’s perspective as well. They stay behind on the homefront while their husbands and brothers and sons went off to war, many not to return.”
The show, being directed by Brian Sikes, will feature a full live Broadway pit orchestra provided by R.O.M.E and more than 30 local actors. Aside from musical numbers centered around actual letters and diary entries, there will also be excerpts from several historical speeches including the Gettysburg Address and other excerpts from speeches by Abraham Lincoln played by award-winning impersonator Homer Sewell.
Notable Rome residents Detrick Redding and Dr. Clemontine Slack will be taking on the roles to two famous historical figures — social reformer and statesman Frederick Douglass and abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth.
Slack is returning to the role of Sojourner Truth after playing the famous abolitionist in the 2006 production of the show.
Baltzer said a local community gospel group will perform one of the songs in the show.
“It’s not a chronological retelling of the story of the Civil War,” he said. “But it does begin with people debate about the rising conflict and with families beginning to take sides. It’s not so much a historical retelling of the war as much as it is a collection of little scenes that are very touching or very powerful in one way or another.”
Three large projectors will display images of the era throughout the show. These images are photographs, drawings, documents that provide a visual backdrop for the music.
Actors will look the part thanks to the efforts of John Carruth and Rome’s 8th Regiment Band who have allowed the cast to use their uniforms to add an air of authenticity to the scenes which include Union and Confederate soldiers.
“I think the show reaches a wide range of audiences,” Baltzer said. “The cornerstone of it is music. The songs are very powerful and touching so we’ve been able to walk that fine line between reaching people who are Civil War enthusiasts and those who know only the basics about that period of our history. The purpose of the show isn’t to glorify one side or another. It’s to uplift and inspire everyone in the audience. It’s a show everyone can feel good about seeing.”
“The Civil War” runs Nov. 9 and 10 at the Rome City Auditorium, 601 Broad St., starting at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for the center section and $10 for the sides and balcony. Advance tickets are available at the Rome City Auditorium office or at Kroger. At-door tickets will also be sold.