A Civil War Christmas: Christmas Carols and Conflicted History

With its delicate dreamscapes, multiple storylines and emphasis on history, Northlight Theatre’s A Civil War Christmas is perfect for your inquisitive youngsters.

It’s a great lesson for those who long to know more about the world and are sensitive to the fact that our country’s past is rooted in the darker side of humanity as well as the hopeful and bright.

Indeed, while her story is decorated with sweet versions of traditional carols, playwright Paula Vogel also brilliantly captures the unrest of a war-torn nation still unsure about the abolition of slavery. Vogel, also, does not shy away from the conspiracies to end President Lincoln’s life and, with his eventual assassin John Wilkes Booth as a major character in the proceedings; the whole of the evening is haunted by the knowledge that Lincoln’s murder is mere months away from the show’s December 1864 setting.

Interestingly, Lincoln’s conflicted wife, Mary Todd, emerges as the show’s emotional force. Played with sensitive power by the phenomenal Paula Scrofano, Todd is involved in the show’s major comic subplot of a mysteriously disappearing Christmas tree, but is also truthfully presented as a manic force, capable of both extreme anger and heartwarming concern. Parallels to contemporary first ladies as Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama are sure to be drawn from Scrofano’s sensitive reactions, as well.

A Civil War Christmas, which runs until December 26th, also gives audiences the chance to experience Tony nominated Felicia P. Fields’ growly grace as White House confidante Elizabeth Keckley and to bask in a surprisingly gorgeous version of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” with Mildred Marie Langford supplying supple vocal assistance.

Tickets for this two-hour extravaganza are $45 – $55 (with Young Adult Tickets available for $10) and can be purchased by calling the box office at 847-673-6300 or visiting northlight.org. Northlight Theatre is located at The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie.