Lincoln & Booth
A Historical Musical

Production History

To date, LINCOLN & BOOTH has had one fully staged production made up of three performances in the Roberts Theatre, West Hartford, CT. The photographs were taken, and the recorded "live" video and CD were all made from that first production.

Winter 1999, Vol. 101, No. 4
Edited by Steven K. Rogstad, Review Editor

LINCOLN & BOOTH: A Historical Musical
Written and composed by Richard J. Chiarappa
Video, VHS, 62 minutes. Price: $20.00
Audio soundtrack, compact disc, 62 minutes. Price: $15:00

Over the years the Lincoln assassination has been the subject of books and broadsides, poetry and painting. To this rich legacy may now be added something new and unusual: a musical play titled: "Lincoln and Booth." The videotape of this production was recorded live at the Roberts Theater of the Kingswood-Oxford School in West Hartford, Connecticut, on September 19-21,1997. The compact disc is the original Hartford cast recording.

"Lincoln and Booth" retells the assassination story in an original two-act musical. History's whole gang is assembled for this event. There's Lincoln, Booth, Mrs. Surratt, Dr. Mudd, Atzerodt, Spangler, Nellie Starr, Stanton, Harry Clay Ford, Lt. Doherty, even Peanuts John. Fearing the worst, most historians grimace when the curtain parts on movies or stage productions about these characters. But there's nothing too amiss here. Richard Chiarappa, who wrote the book, music, and lyrics, has been fair to the facts. He wisely sought historical assistance from James 0. Hall, Laurie Verge, and Joan Chaconas, and viewers may rest assured the historical elements of the play are satisfactory.

Although the set is simple, there is nothing diminutive about the production. The play is professionally done, it is well-cast, well-acted, and well-performed. Frank Sweeney gives us an energetic and credible Booth, Chris Hand Parliman (Mary Todd Lincoln) is also a standout, using a fine voice to good advantage. And what about Laura Diekmann! Bottle and sell her lovely Laura Keene! These and other performers are treated well by imaginative camerawork of the video and will look even better when additional lighting work is done.

One of the musical numbers, "Honor to Our Soldiers" by William Withers and H. B. Phillips, is the only non-original piece in the play. This seems quite appropriate, and Chiarappa is clever to include it. The song was to have been performed on April 14, 1865. "Good-bye," a trio sung by Booth, Nellie Star, and Lucy (Hale), is a haunting favorite among the new music. It had this reviewer hitting the rewind button several times for reprises.

Terry Alford
Northern Virginia Community College