FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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WORLD PREMIERE OF NEW AMERICAN MUSICAL ON 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF CIVIL WAR’S END TO BENEFIT LOCAL YOUTH ARTS PROGRAMS
(Philadelphia – March 13, 2015) 150 years ago, on April 9, 1865, Generals Grant and Lee met at the Appomattox Court House to end the Civil War. On April 9, 2015, Mother B!, a “new old-fashioned American musical,” written in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, will premiere at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center (UDPAC) in concert version. The event will star Walnut Street Theatre favorite Denise Whelan, include a cast of 16 Philadelphia actors, and feature 200 singers from the Pennsylvania Girlchoir and the Keystone State Boychoir.
Written by Philadelphia native Steven Fisher, Mother B! celebrates the remarkable story of Mary Ann Bickerdyke, aka “Mother B.” Remembered as “the Florence Nightingale of the Civil War,” Mother B’s indefatigable service earned her the profound respect of President Lincoln and General Grant, and the gratitude of the entire Union army. She witnessed over 19 battles and set up over 300 field hospitals with innovative approaches to hygiene and soldier care that helped bring medicine out of the dark ages. In doing so, she saved the lives of thousands of soldiers.
The musical revolves around Mother B’s friendship with “Little Albert,” a character inspired by the real-life Private Albert Cashier. Cashier was a tremendously brave, hard-fighting soldier who also had a secret: “he” was actually a “she.” Born Jennie Hodgers, Private Cashier is the only documented female known to have fought the entire Civil War without being found out by authorities during the conflict. In the musical, Mother B discovers Little Albert and helps keep his secret safe. After the war, Albert’s secret is revealed. When the Illinois Soldier’s Home tries to deny him his rights as a veteran, Mother B takes up his cause.
Featuring a rousing, toe-tapping score in the style of the Golden Age musicals of the 1940s and a story that will make you smile, cry and cheer, Mother B! will transport the audience to an epic time that still fascinates, captivates and haunts us to this day. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Pennsylvania Girlchoir and the Keystone State Boychoir, as well as the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center.
Terry and Amy Nolen are honorary co-chairs of the event. They, along with Fisher (and actor/writer Tina Fey) are alumni of the award-winning youth theatre program Summer Stage, which is in residence at UDPAC. The Nolens went on to found one of the country’s most successful regional theatres, the Arden Theatre. Fisher went on to co-found Commonwealth Youthchoirs*. The organization serves over 600 young singers in four different programs, including the Boychoir and Girlchoir.
Fisher’s other musical works include Mandela, which has been developed in New York and in Johannesburg, and will receive a workshop later in 2015 starring Tony-nominee Norm Lewis. His family musical Isabelle and the Pretty-Ugly Spell received a rave review from the New York Times during its New York run and has enjoyed productions around the country.
For Mother B! tickets visit CYChoirs.org/UDPACtickets or call 610-622-1189.
publication quality images of the Mother B! logo, Denise Whelan, a Civil War era photo of Mother B (source: National Park Service), and a photo of the choirs in concert can be downloaded in a single zip file: http://www.cychoirs.org/wpress/images/MotherBGraphics.zip
*Commonwealth Youthchoirs (CY) nurtures in young people a profound love of singing with four different programs: Pennsylvania Girlchoir, Keystone State Boychoir, Good Mornin’ Music! and Find Your Instrument! Drawing from more than 125 schools, over 600 children from Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties and beyond are involved in CY programs. For more information, visit www.cychoirs.org.