Booth! – Musical
BOOTH! THE STORY OF EDWIN BOOTH
“…think no more of him now as your brother. He is dead to us now.”
With these words Edwin Booth, the great American actor, would commence a tortured existence. His infamous brother John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. In the search for the President’s assassin the Booth family once beloved by the American public, suddenly found themselves subjected to its ire and fury. This prudent advice from Edwin to members of the Booth family was aimed at their preservation from vigilante justice.
Booth! is a reflection on the life of Edwin Booth. We journey into the atelier of this maverick actor and the significant events that have marked his life from the perspective of his daughter, Edwina Booth.
Engulfed in this reflection, we undertake a musical voyage into the sometimes-disturbing relationships that defined Edwin the son, the husband, the father, the brother and essentially the actor. Undoubtedly, the dastardly act of his brother John Wilkes plays a major part in shaping and influencing Edwina’s reflection on the life of Edwin Booth.
- Prologue – Across the Streams of Time – Edwina sings to her father about their tragic past.
- Cast in Perfect Love – A love duet between a twentyish Edwin and Mary. They meet onstage while acting the masquerade in Romeo and Juliet.
- Cook Like Mama – A joyous song of women working in the kitchen, telling one another what attracts a man – before their lives were forever changed.
- Johnny, You’re No Hero – Tumultuous choral piece crystallizes the public scorn and indignation over the death of Lincoln.
- The Curse of Cain – In the face of the public scandal attached to the assassination, Edwin prays for the grace to cope with the actions of his brother,
Lord, grant me grace; let me erase
This wretched stain, the curse of Cain.
- Lost to Time – Edwin and Edwina question their fate while trying to retain the memories from a better time.
- Edwin’s Soliloquy – A powerful statement of Edwin self-torment and misery. In association with Hamlet, Edwin wrestles with fundamental questions of destiny and identity.
- The Stage manager’s Song – A comical song about the woes of a stage manager trying to keep the show going despite the antics of the cast.
- It’s Hard to Play Shakespeare – A rousing drinking-song about the difficulties of staging a play with the star in a bar and the cast getting plastered. Junius Booth makes a drunken entrance half-way through. Opportunities throughout for horseplay and drunken buffoonery.
- Take a Sip! Break a Leg! – Father Junius belts out an intoxicated song of how liquor gives you the nerve to face both the adoration and the rejection of life onstage.
- The Footsteps of the Father – The three brothers (Edwin, John Wilkes, and Junius, Jr.) each indicate their intention to continue in the tradition of theatre and to ensure the legacy of the Booth name. A strong and dignified song, ending with the three brothers simultaneously envisioning their fame.
- Out West – An up-beat ensemble number that juxtaposes the fortunes of those headed West to find gold and those headed West to entertain them. With fiddle-tunes and opportunities for choreography.
- Dame England – A comical but poignant song of the first Mrs. Edwin Booth coming to America to find her husband.
- In the Still I Will Wait – Mary Devlin is torn between her great love for Edwin and her anger that he would abandon her.
- Southern Beauty – This ballad or folksong is both a hymn and a send-up of the Southern chivalric ideal. Performed by John Wilkes and confederate ensemble in a bar.
- My Son John – A cheery nursery tune between Lucy Hale and Asia Booth.
- A Mother’s Love – A gentle mother’s lullaby sung before the descent into the maelstrom of anger and grief wrought by John Wilkes’ actions.
- Let Caesar’s Blood Be Shed – John Wilkes and his confederates vow that Lincoln’s death will catapult the South to war and ultimate victory. With poignant echoes of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”
- Mourning Glory – A patriotic choral hymn that underscores the sacrifice that often accompanies freedom. Written within a week of the September 11th tragedy.
- The Vulture Hours – Edwin in the grasp of the past and struggling with his family-demons. (Alcoholic father, assassin brother, and lost wife).
- Too Soon – A lament for John Wilkes (and Junius, Sr.) sung by his mother and his brothers.
- Our Love Forever New – A duet that can be sung or reprised with Mary in the afterlife and Edwin in the present, “embracing forever with a love that conquers death.” Edwin’s fascination with séances and the occult increased after Mary’s death.