The Civil War

Michael Lanning, Gene Miller - By The Sword

An original work by Frank Wildhorn,
Gregory Boyd and Jack Murphy

The Civil War is a moving song-cycle which weaves an emotional tapestry from our nation's history. The show draws on letters and speeches, and uses projections including actual photographs from the war. It is staged as a musical oratorio, leaving a traditional book behind and using toned-down sets and costumes. All of this brings the music and the subject material into sharp focus.

Gilles Chiasson, Irene Molloy - The Honour Of Your Name

The powerful music in this show covers a wide range of emotions. The Union and Confederate armies sing of their excitement as they prepare to go into war and defend their respective causes. The enslaved sing of their pain and misery as they are sold as property. A soldier and his wife try to ease their separation by writing frequent letters. An abolitionist (in certain scenes identified as Frederick Douglas) lobbies his cause, and expresses his frustration with both the injustice that his people suffer and the reluctance of President Lincoln and the Union to address it. A nurse reflects on the work that she is trying to do. Captains from the two armies grapple with the decisions that they must make, not only for themselves but for the soldiers who follow them. The enslaved join in rousing gospel numbers, keeping their hopes and their spirits alive despite everything that they endure. The soldiers of both armies, gradually realizing the horrors of war, face despair, death and defeat.

This intense work delves into one of our nation's most defining times, and is packed with feeling and messages, expressed directly through the wide variety of musical numbers performed. The war may be past, but the struggle continues today...

Broadway production photography by Joan Marcus, Carol Rosegg and Eduardo Patino.

Regional productions: The performance rights for The Civil War are available from Music Theatre International.

Our Story In Song

Houston, Texas: The Civil War had its world premiere at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas on 16 September 1998. Previews started on 8 September and the show ran through 1 November. The cast included Gene Miller, Michael Lanning, Keith Byron Kirk, Linda Eder, Michel Bell, Cheryl Freeman, Matt Bogart, Capathia Jenkins, Gilles Chiasson and Irene Molloy.

New Haven, Connecticut: En route to Broadway, The Civl War had a production at the Shubert Theatre from 16 February through 7 March 1999. Most of the cast travelled with the show from Houston, playing both the Shubert and Broadway, a notable exception being Linda Eder.

The Broadway Musical St. James Theatre, New York: The Civil War opened at the St. James Theatre on 22 April 1999, with previews starting 23 March. With both Jekyll & Hyde and The Scarlet Pimpernel already playing on Broadway, Frank Wildhorn became the first American composer in twenty-two years to have three shows playing there at once. However, the run of The Civil War was short-lived; it closed on 13 June 1999.

First U.S. Tour: The first national tour of The Civil War came in two installments. The first ran from 18 January through 25 June 2000. It starred BeBe Winans, Michael Lanning, Keith Byron Kirk, Mike Eldred, Amy Rutberg, and alternating as the Confederate Captain, John Schneider and Larry Gatlin. The second leg of the tour ran from 27 February through 1 July 2001. It starred Larry Gatlin, Michael Lanning, Keith Byron Kirk, Moses Braxton and Nicolette Hart.

Regional productions: Starting in the spring of 2001, The Civil War has seen stagings throughout the U.S. You can find details in the Calendar Section. For information on upcoming performances, see above. Calendar Listings: Past, US.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: A new adaptation of The Civil War, titled For The Glory: The Civil War Musical at Gettysburg, was specially prepared for the newly restored Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The show had its first season of performances beginning with previews on 14 June 2006, officially opening on 17 June and running through 3 September 2006.

Washington, D.C.: The Civil War was presented as part of the grand re-opening season of Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. Performances began on 27 March, with an official opening on 1 April, and ran through 24 May 2009. The show was directed by Jeff Calhoun, with musical direction by Jay Crowder. The cast included Sarah Darling, Elliot Dash, Eleasha Gamble, Darryl Reuben Hall, Sean Jenness, Matthew John Kacergis, Kellee Knighten, Michael Lanning, Kingsley Leggs, Michael "Tuba" McKinsey, Aaron Reeder, Bart Shatto, Timothy Shew, Chris Sizemore, Stephen Gregory Smith and Bligh Voth. Michael Goodwin was heard as the pre-recorded voice of Abraham Lincoln. Further information is available at the Ford's Theatre website.

>Flat Rock, North Carolina: The Flat Rock Playhouse presented For The Glory from 2 June through 4 July 2010, with an official opening night of 5 June. Mike Eldred and Michael Lanning led the cast, with Vincent Marini directing and Dave Clemmons serving as music supervisor. For more information, see the Flat Rock Playhouse website.

This is the song list from the Broadway production of the show, which ran at the St. James Theatre in 1999:

Act One:
A House Divided The Citizens
Freedom's Child Frederick Douglass and other Abolitionists
By the Sword/Sons of Dixie The Armies
Tell My Father Private Sam Taylor
The Peculiar Institution The Enslaved
If Prayin' Were Horses Clayton and Bessie Toler
Greenback Autolycus Fell, Mabel and Violet
Missing You (My Bill) Sarah McEwen
Judgment Day Capt. Pierce, Capt. Lochran, Pvt. Sam Taylor and the Armies
Father, How Long? Clayton Toler
Someday Harriet Jackson, Bessie Toler and others
I'll Never Pass This Way Again Corporal Stewart
How Many Devils? The Armies
Act Two:
Virginia Captain Pierce
Candle in the Window Harriet Jackson
Oh! Be Joyful! Autolycus Fell, Sgt. Richardson, Pvts. Bock and Hotchkiss
Five Boys Mrs. Bixby
The Hospital Nurse, Mrs. Bixby, Union Soldiers, Clayton Toler
If Prayin' Were Horses (reprise) Clayton and Bessie Toler
River Jordan Benjamin Reynolds and others
Sarah Corporal William McEwen
The Honor of Your Name Sarah McEwen
Greenback (reprise) Autolycus Fell, Violet
Northbound Train Captain Lochran
Last Waltz for Dixie Captain Pierce and the Confederate Soldiers
The Glory Capt. Lochran, Frederick Douglass, Benjamin Reynolds and Full Company

A new adaptation of The Civil War, titled For The Glory: The Civil War Musical at Gettysburg, was specially prepared for the newly restored Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The show had its first season of performances beginning with previews on 14 June 2006, officially opening on 17 June and running through 3 September 2006. Regular performances took place on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 2 and 8 pm, Fridays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm


The production is currently on hiatus, with hopes to bring it back to Gettysburg in the future. No specific plans have been announced.

There are articles about this staging on Playbill Online and Photos from opening night have been posted in the Projects Photo Gallery and sound clips and a video have been posted on Jack Murphy's Website.

The cast for the first season included Michael Lanning (The Union Captain), Rob Evan and Dan Cooney (The Confederate Captain), Keith Byron Kirk (The Abolitionist), Erin Mosher and Anne Brummel (Sarah), Bart Shatto (Bill/a Soldier), Steve Barcus (a Soldier), Dustin Brayley (a Soldier), Joshua Breckenridge (a Slave), Allyson Daniel (a Slave), Philip Drennen (a Soldier), Ryan Dunn (a Soldier), Bryan Guffey (Clayton/a Slave), Aaron LaVigne (a Soldier/"Tell My Father"), Bryonha Marie (Bessie/a Slave), Michael McKinsey (a Soldier), Tracee Perrin (a Slave), Troy Scarborough (Benjamin/a Slave) and Tad Wilson (a Soldier).

The staging was produced by Vincent Marini, Roy Miller and Pete Herber. Direction was by Vincent Marini, musical direction was by Galen Butler, choreography was by Sharon Halley, orchestrations were by Kim Scharnberg and vocal direction was by Dave Clemmons. The design team included Kevin Rigdon (sets), Howell Binkley (lighting), Tina Marie Green-Heinze (costumes), Michael Clark (projections) and Nick Kourtides (sound). Casting was by Dave Clemmons Casting and general management was by NETworks Presentations.

Information on the venue and its extensive restoration project can be found at the Majestic Theater Website.



©Frank Wildhorn Productions 2012