Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ford's Theatre

Ford's Theatre is a great example of what we love about DC in that it is a living piece of history. Most people recognize it as the place where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth (the home where Lincoln died - the Peterson House - is across the street, complete with the bed and blood stained pillow). What many don't realize is that Ford's Theatre is also a fully operational playhouse.

This was our second trip to Ford's Theatre. The first time we saw Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, which is regularly performed for the holidays and quite good. Since then, the theatre was closed for an 18 month renovation and reopened this month in time for Lincoln's 200th birthday. To celebrate the event, a new play was commissioned entitled, The Heavens are Hung in Black, which chronicles Lincoln's life from the time of his son's death through the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. It is a well done biographical study on the President's personal, political, and philosophical battles, impressively portrayed by the lead actor, David Selby. It lacks the drama of a more traditional play but is very appropriate for the venue and the occasion.

But no matter how good the performance is on stage, the famous balcony is what steals the show. It is presented as it looked in 1865 complete with the portrait of George Washington which was used in lieu of a Presidential seal at the time. It is hard not to imagine Lincoln enjoying a play, just as you are nearly 150 years later, and Booth jumping from the balcony to the stage as he made his escape. Ford's Theatre is history, culture, and sophistication all rolled into one... which makes for an enjoyable and very unique night on the town.

J's Two Cents
The newly renovated Ford's Theatre offers a much-improved theatre experience. Comfortable movie theatre-style seats have replaced the hard chairs and a bright new lobby, snack bar and restrooms are a welcome addition.

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