Civil War Voices tells the compelling and passionate true stories of five individuals who lived through the conflict, using the actual words the characters left behind in diaries, letters, and other writings. All new arrangements of traditional melodies of the period by renowned composer Mark Hayes advance the narrative and sharpen the emotional impact of the stories. As the nation prepares for the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War in 2011, Civil War Voices is prepared to be a key entertainment component of events all across America.
The combination of the compelling true stories, beautiful music, and the passion of the times delievers an emotional "wallop" that is hard to describe unless experienced. Typical words used by audience members to desribe the show include "goose bump raising," "stirring," and "inspirational."
The five characters represent a cross section of America. Joe Harris was a cotton planter from Alabama with a conflicted conscience about the war. The discovery of the existence of his Civil War diary inspired the play. Elizabeth Keckley was born a slave, bought her freedom, and became Mary Todd Lincoln's closest friend and personal assistant in the White House. Theo and Harriet Perry were a young, married couple from Texas, who were seperated by the war. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was a college professor from Maine, who enlisted to fight for the Union.
The play follows the lives of these five characters as the Civil War progresses. Theo Perry's wife gives brith to a son a few months after he leaves to fight in the war. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain becomes a national war hero as a result of his actions at Gettysburg and accepts the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. Elizabeth Keckley endures the indignity of slavery in early life, but eventually gains her freedom and moves to Washington, D.C. There she becomes close friends with the Lincoln family. Her joy at the news of the Confederate surrender turns to sorrow when President Lincoln is assassinated. Joe Harris, the passive observer and reluctant soldier, lives through the war and delivers a passionate plea for reconciliation and forgiveness as the play ends.
Through the lives and words of these five individuals, the struggles, hardships and sacrifices of Americans become understandable and real. The extraordinary music of the period reveals the emotions behind the conflict. The show contains new, exciting arrangements of some of the greatest songs of the greatest songs of the period such as Battle Hymn of the Republic, Amazing Grace, and Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child, just to name a few. Significantly, this show appeals to young people. These songs and stories can help a new generation of Americans identify with the incredible drama of this stirring era.