REVIEW: The Lincolns of Springfield, An Emancipation Gala Celebration - The Langham Huntington Hotel

Updated: Jun 19


“The Lincolns of Springfield – An Emancipation Celebration,” a Premiere Theatrical Productions Gala Fundraising event presented this past Sunday evening in the Viennese Ballroom at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, featured an array of Broadway stars, including Michael Halling (“My Fair Lady,” “The Scarlett Pimpernil”), Michal Dawson Conners (“Ragtime,” “Porgy and Bess”), as well as the amazing gospel choir RAISE, directed by Chris Wade.

Sponsored by the law offices of Panish, Shea & Boyle, Girardi Keese, and Gary A. Dordick, the sumptuous concert supported three anti-human trafficking organizations: Thorn, Operation Underground Railroad, and Zoe International.


“The Lincolns of Springfield – An Emancipation Celebration” began with a beautiful dinner prepared by the world renowned chefs of the Langham Huntington Hotel, followed by a sumptuous concert version of "The Lincolns of Springfield" with spectacular, uplifting music in the grand style of a Rodgers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Loewe musical. The full orchestrated score used bold, melodic and gospel music theatre styles that embrace the story's period and Americana roots.


The concert featured a cast of seven seasoned performers and presented the amazing voices of Rosemary Blankson, a graduate of Berlee College of Music with Honors, who has appeared in “Seussical,” “Once On This Island,” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” and Brook Dupont, who also has a strong musical theatre background and has added two national commercials to her credit. Kevin Michael Moran also starred and has performed in film and television as well.


Deborah Robin, also a featured singer, is a theatre veteran and LAMDA graduate and has guest starred in numerous TV productions and most recently appeared on the stage in Glendale as “Mary Poppins.” And Rebecca Powers, who has headlined major venues throughout the West Coast with her Grammy-winning band, as well as having directed and produced theatre in Southern California, dazzled the crowd with stellar vocals as well.

The RAISE Gospel Choir helped accentuate and bridge the gap between the Lincoln years and the contemporary music world in perfect harmony. The music combined gospel themes indicative of the era with new classical music themes, adding to the performance techniques of the actors.


The Choir included Sonia Harlie, Gerald Wong, Noemi Albulario, Ryan Yoose, Anselmo Bogarin, Christina Hampton, Nick Lucin and Jaronie Real, with direction and arrangement by Mr. Wade.


In addition, a four-piece band consisting of Joe Quattrorochi and Herman Jackson on keyboards, Edward Tencredi on percussion and Federico Orlandini on bass exemplified accompaniment perfection at its finest.


Acting as host for the event, Terrence L. Cranert, in addition to providing the book, lyrics and music to “The Lincolns of Springfield,” has co-produced the Broadway production of “A Night With Janis Joplin,” the Broadway revival of Leonard Bernstein’s “On The Town” and the Tony Award winning “The 39 Steps,” and has also composed the musicals “Joan of Arc,” “Pinocchio in Tinsel Town,” and “When The Fat Lady Sings.” A graduate of Loyola Law School, Mr. Cranert is also Chief Trial Counsel for Zurich Insurance Company at the offices of Mavredakis & Cranert in Pasadena, CA, and continues to perfect his craft as a member of the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop at Dreamworks under the direction of Stephen Schwartz.


"The Lincolns of Springfield" chronicles the incredible story of America's greatest President and his much beloved wife. This is the amazing, yet entirely true story of how a southern belle and a backwoods boy fell in love and became America's first power couple.


Exposing their dreams, possibilities and heartbreak, and focusing on the little-known early chapters in the life of Abraham Lincoln, and the love of his life, Mary Todd, the musical is based on historical fact in a progressive arc, presenting first the young Abe Lincoln as a lanky, prankster boy, close to his mother and sister, who loves to read and who can tell a yarn with the best of them. The musical then takes you from his first meeting with Mary Todd through the end of the Civil War. But, all the while, even In America's darkest hour - even while overcoming great personal loss and adversity...their love endured. Theirs is a tale of hope…and a tale of tragedy.


Abraham Lincoln has gone down in history as one of our country’s greatest Presidents, serving the country during a most precarious era. While most of the country looked to divide, President Lincoln fought for unity and ultimately saved the Union. Steadfast with the belief that all men are created equal, President Lincoln led the charge to free all slaves in America. Born of humble roots in Hardin County, Kentucky in 1809, Lincoln managed to rise to the Presidency though a legacy of honesty, integrity, intelligence and commitment to the people of the United States of America.


Mary Todd, born in 1818 into a prominent family in Lexington, Kentucky, received a remarkable education for a young girl during this time period, studying at a local academy and then attending boarding school. She married then politician and lawyer Abraham Lincoln on November 4, 1842. Right away, Mary Todd Lincoln proved to be a staunch supporter of her husband's political career, offering him advice, hosting events and helping him advance his public life.


When he won his Congressional seat, Mary became the talk of the town when she decided to accompany him to Washington for the remainder of his term. Yes, the Lincolns seemed to be quite the team, and in November, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States.


On April 14, 1865, Mary Todd Lincoln sat next to her husband at Ford's Theatre when he was shot by an assassin. The President died the following day, but Mary never fully recovered, falling into a deep depression over her husband’s death. She lived out her final days with her sister in Springfield, Illinois, and died there at the age of 63 in 1882.


"The Lincolns of Springfield" is an incredible feat of achievement and presents a fresh portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln and her position as not only Abraham Lincoln’s soul-mate, but his greatest supporter and his most deeply admired advisor. This show brings that story to life accurately with realistic interpretations and simply amazing songs throughout. I anticipate and look forward to further development of this wondrous show and to seeing the full performance on Broadway soon.


Chris Daniels

The Show Report

www.theshowreport.org

 © 2020 by KDaniels 

Chris Daniels, Arts Reviewer

The Show Report