'Civil War' play at Andrew Carnegie Library marks anniversary of the end of the war
April 3, 2015 12:00 AM
By Linda Wilson Fuoco / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
April is a big month for Civil War historians, and a Broadway musical will be the centerpiece for end-of-the-war observations at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie.
“Peoples Natural Gas Presents: The Civil War” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. April 10 and 11 and at 2 p.m. April 12 in the music hall.
The Civil War began on April 12, 1861, ended 150 years ago on April 9 and President Lincoln died six days later on April 15, 1865.
The writings of Mr. Lincoln will be one of the many voices included in the production, said Stephen Santa, who is directing “The Civil War.” The production includes fictionalized diaries, letters and accounts from ordinary citizens.
“I wouldn’t call it a play,” Mr. Santa said “I would call it a dramatic theatrical concert event. It’s a series of vignettes and stories on how people survived the Civil War — or did not survive.”
The cast of 40 includes 20 members of the choir, who will be on stage for the entire production. “Some of the best voices in Pittsburgh” will be singing gospel, country and rock motifs, Mr. Santa said.
The Civil War opened on Broadway in 1999 and earned five Tony nominations.
This is the first time the Library & Music Hall has paid royalties ($2,535) and mounted its own production.
Executive director Maggie Forbes said she would not have taken on the challenge without Mr. Santa agreeing to direct because “he’s a phenomenon.”
She’s hoping to fill all 400 seats in the music hall for each of the three performances.
Though Mr. Santa is only 29, he has an extensive theatrical resume. Now a resident of Beechview, he grew up in Bethel Park. He was 10 years old when he started studying and acting with Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. As a student he participated in high school productions. Then he steadily gravitated toward directing.
He notes he is “one of the lucky ones,” working full-time as an artist while pursuing his dream of directing here and off-Broadway in New York City. For six weeks last fall he was an assistant director for the national tour of “Flashdance The Musical.”
His artist job is with Pittsburgh CLO in the Creative Vision Program, which takes drama into the schools of K-8 students throughout the area.
He’s no stranger to the music hall in Carnegie, which he says is the perfect venue for The Civil War because “the building just seeps history” and is the site of the Civil War room and the Lincoln Gallery of 100 photographic portraits. They will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 11 for the library’s 10th annual Civil War Living History Day.
Mr. Santa has directed a number of productions in Carnegie for Stage 62, including “The Full Monty” and “The Producers.”
Tickets for The Civil War are $25 purchased in advance at www.carnegiecarnegie.org or $30 at the door.
All daytime Civil War programming on April 11 is free, and includes speakers, re-enactors, exhibits, a film and book sale. A free shuttle will travel between the municipal lot on Main Street to the Library & Music Hall.
Go to www.carnegiecarnegie.org for a complete listing.
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