After his death on April 15, 1865, President Lincoln was further embraced and respected as a great leader and preserver of the Union. Though he never experienced the healing of wounds from the war. His humble beginnings gave hope to millions of people. Many of today’s leaders, including President Obama, have found inspiration in Lincoln’s life and work. Would you believe we are attending a performance at Ford’s Theater on the anniversary (145th) of this terrible event?
After the theater, we are headed to the spanking new Newseum, and then a quick stop at the gift shop of the International Spy Museum. We visited the Spy Museum several years ago and found it rather dreary and depressing. Most of us do not need any prodding to remember the Cold War. It also reminded me of my trip through Checkpoint Charlie, and the Berlin Wall into East Berlin. Lo and behold, Newseum had a big section of the Berlin Wall, a Checkpoint Charlie Gun Tower, and an ominous sign from the Cold War days.
Most people do not know that John Wilkes Booth was a very popular and handsome actor. He was only in his twenties, and had already enjoyed prominence on the American stage. He was best known for his Shakespeare dramas, particularly as Marc Antony in Julius Caesar. During his Presidency, Lincoln attended a dozen performances at Ford’s, including The Marble Heart, where Booth had a leading role. Booth stayed the night before at a hotel in DC where the Newseum is now located.
Most of us did not know that the Lincolns invited Lt. General U.S. Grant and his wife to the theater that fateful night. The play, Our American Cousin, began at 8pm. They invited, at the last minute, Clara Harris, the daughter of a New York Senator, and her fiance’, Major Henry Reed Rathbone. At about 10:15pm, Booth entered the Presidential box and shot the President. After stabbing Rathbone in the left arm, he jumped onto the stage, landed off balance, and broke a small bone in his leg. He mounted his horse in the back alley, and left the city.
Almost to the day, we are attending a presentation of Little Shop of Horrors, the story of the well-meaning flower shop employee Seymour Krelborn and his wisecracking carnivorous plant, Audrey II. Seymour delights in the attention his leafy friend attracts, but when Audrey II develops a craving for human flesh, the situation spins out of control. Coy Middlebrook, a key member of the artistic team for Shenandoah and Big River, makes his Ford’s directorial debut with this zany American classic. Husband-and-wife team Christopher Kale Jones and Jenna Coker-Jones make their Ford’s Theatre debut as Seymour and Audrey.