Rebecca Powers Cranert Interview by Jen Bush
The Lincolns of Springfield is a thrilling new historical musical. The show is produced by Rebecca Powers Cranert. The Lincolns of Springfield tells the love story you won’t find in the history books. The audience is led down a delightfully romantic path leading to the marriage of the most unlikely of couples, Mary Todd and Abe Lincoln, a Southern Belle and a backwoods genius. The Lincolns of Springfield chronicles the incredible story of one of America’s greatest Presidents and his much-loved wife, from their first meeting through the end of the Civil War.
Rebecca Powers Cranert brings a multifaceted background to the production team, having served in leadership positions in the arts, education and business. Rebecca served as Director of Theater Programs for the Los Angeles County Arts Counsel supervising all professional theaters throughout Los Angeles County, including those at the Los Angeles Music Center. She also produced and directed professional theatrical productions throughout California. As a professional singer, Rebecca headlined at major venues throughout the West Coast with her ten-piece, Grammy-winning show band.
This musical went through some significant changes from when it began to where it is now. “This musical began as a story about Abraham Lincoln and evolved into a story about Abraham Lincoln and Mary Lincoln. The more Terry Cranert (book/music/lyrics) studied Abraham Lincoln, the more he -and I- came to see that, as many Lincoln scholars state, without Mary, there probably would never have been a President Abraham Lincoln.”
“Mary came from a very politically active and involved family. She traveled in political circles. Henry Clay was a frequent dinner guest at Mary’s home when she was growing up. Her sister married the son of the governor of Illinois. Mary was even courted by Steven Douglas! Mary apparently recognized almost immediately upon meeting Abe, his charisma, his intellectual prowess and his political potential. She encouraged him and supported him in his political endeavors. She helped him dress appropriately and to behave in a socially acceptable manner- or as we would say today- in a presidential manner. She threw campaign parties that entertained hundreds of people in their home in Springfield! It became clear that we couldn’t tell the story of Abraham Lincoln without telling the story of Abe and Mary Lincoln and their romance and marriage.”
“Although Abe is well known for being self educated, Mary, even though she was a young girl, recieved an education that was in every way equal to that of the best educated young men of the time. Mary studied European History, Mathematics, and spoke French impeccably. In addition, she attended a finishing school run by a Parisian lady, who also influenced Mary’s love of fashion. Later in life, while Abe and Mary were in the White House, Mary’s aristocratic upbringing, enabled her to refurbish The White House, just like both Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan did, in a manner that allowed Americans to hold their heads high when visited by European dignitaries. Abe came to rely on Mary’s knowledge, social expertise and advice. They were most definitely America’s first “power couple.””
“Most people are not aware that as a young girl, Mary assisted her father’s household slaves with the Underground Railway. She was an abolitionist from a very young age.”
“Together, Abe and Mary, worked to free a people and save our country. Together, they made innumerable, unimaginable and unthinkably difficult sacrifices to achieve that goal.”
“Yet, and this is important, Mary, as well as every other woman of the time, was not even allowed to vote. In spite of her aristocratic upbringing, in spite of her exemplary education, Mary was still unable to vote.”
“In many ways “The Lincoln’s of Springfield,” tells a story that causes us to become very aware of the struggles women have faced throughout history, and how and why women, even today, continue to seek equality for themselves and for their daughters.”
“Within “The Lincolns of Springfield’s” story, the pivotal relationship between Mary and her dearest friend, Elizabeth Keckly, a formerly enslaved seamstress, who managed to buy not only her own freedom, but that of her son, shines a light upon women’s struggles and exemplifies how women, empowering other women, has served to strengthen our entire culture throughout American history.”
Many playwrights engage in some level of creative license when writing historical pieces. When it came to Abraham Lincoln, creative license was neither practical or logical. “In regard to historical theatrical license, I came to understand, that Abraham Lincoln’s story is unique in that he has become in every sense, so very highly esteemed, indeed sacred, to many, many Americans, Lincoln Scholars and Lincoln oficianados- that to these people, there is no such thing as acceptable theatrical license when it comes to Abraham Lincoln and his story. These people are extremely familiar with every aspect of Lincoln’s life and when telling this story, you better darn well get it right! If a writer goes off track, even just a tiny bit, the Lincoln lovers will come out of the woodwork and call you out!”
“So with this in mind, Terry was scrupulous when it came to the script for “The Lincolns of Springfield.” He studied and researched for years before he even began writing. Luckily, at that time, we lived just a mile or so away from The Huntington Library in Pasadena, California, which houses an entire wing of Lincoln scholars. When Terry finally, actually started writing, he would put together a scene and a musical number and take them over to the Lincoln scholars at The Huntington, who would go through everything he had written with a fine tooth comb to make sure it was entirely truthful- not a legend!! Any thing that was in the slightest bit inaccurate, was cut. Thus, we ended up with a musical that takes no theatrical license at all, and that proves once and for all, that “Truth is stranger than fiction.””
“So– If you want to find out how an aristocratic Southern Belle and a back woods genius- (possibly the most highly improbable couple ever!!)– managed to find each other, fall in love, get married, and become our country’s first power couple—Who then freed a people and saved our country!! Be sure to grab your entire family and come see the new musical, “The Lincolns of Springfield” at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, Illinois this Summer!”
Terence L. Cranert’s stirring new musical,
THE LINCOLNS OF SPRINGFIELD
A musical for the entire family
Premiering in Springfield, Illinois, with sights set on New York.
Performances begin June 15
Hoogland Center for the Arts – Peggy Ryder Theater
420 South Sixth Street, Springfield, Illinois
The Lincolns of Springfield is scheduled to play in Springfield, IL through August and the show is currently in negotiations to come to New York.