GALLIPOLIS — On March 23, Gallia Academy closed their production of The Civil War. After auditions on January 12, the cast, under the direction of Marilyn Wills, along with the orchestra, under the direction of Greg Benson, proceeded to put more than 120 hours of work into the production over the course of three months culminating in their March performances.
Nattalie Phillips, whose involvement was made possible through the After School Success and Enrichment for Teens (ASSET) program, joined the team as vocal coach. The students of Gallia Academy High School (GAHS) and Gallia Academy Middle School (GAMS) were also joined by community actors Robert Gordon, Kevin Jackson, Jessica Lang, Jahanni Lang, Anthony Henry and GAHS Resource Officer Chad Wallace.
The musical, a Two Act Thru Sung/Operetta, focuses on the period of American history surrounding the American Civil War.
According to a synopsis of the performance by Music Theatre International, “Drawing on letters, diaries, firsthand accounts, and the words of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Walt Whitman, The Civil War is a thrilling, gut-wrenching and awe-inspiring ‘dramatic theatrical concert’ that covers the enormous emotional landscape of the most difficult test our nation has ever endured.
“This epic thematic revue puts a human face on the greatest tragedy of American history. It explores the experiences of the soldiers and leaders who fought for their way of life. It also examines the lives of the lovers and families they left behind, as well as the hopes and fears of the slaves whose freedom was at stake. It passionately asks us to consider our beliefs about freedom, honor and faith.”
The cast, technical theater students and orchestra, performed for the Recreation, Opportunities, Culture, Knowledge and Skills (ROCKS) and ASSET after school programs, the GAHS staff and student body and two public performances on March 22 and 23.
On March 16, the cast, crew and orchestra took a field trip to Cincinnati’s National Freedom Center and Underground Railroad Museum. The trip was organized by Connie Bradbury and funded by the generosity of the Educational Service Center (ESC). There, students explored the history of slavery as an international institution, with topics ranging from American slavery to modern human trafficking. In addition, on March 21, members of The Civil War production hosted Carolyn Casey, who discussed African-American culture and the historical significance of the play with the cast, crew and orchestra members.