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Centenary Stage Company's Artistic Director's Play to be Produced in Ohio

02/28/2014, 11:03 AM

Hackettstown, N.J. – Carl Wallnau, Centenary Stage Company’s Artistic Director and Associate Professor of Theatre Arts, will have his play “Mary Todd: A Woman Apart” produced by the Perry County Historical and Cultural Arts Society in Somerset, Ohio. 

The play will be performed in May in the Somerset’s 1829 Court House and in June at the Tecumseh in Shawnee, Ohio.  It will be directed by Dayton Willison, an Americorps volunteer and both productions will be a fundraiser for the Society.  Somerset was the childhood home of the famed Civil War General, Philip Henry Sheridan and is a historical landmark. 

 “Mary Todd: A Woman Apart” has been previously performed at Centenary Stage Company and the Samuel Beckett Theatre in New York City.

“Our Society is going to have an event with an Abraham Lincoln reenactor, so this play fits in well with the opportunities that we offer for our community,” says John McGaughey, President of the Perry County Historical and Cultural Society.  “It was such a different and interesting way to feature the life of Mary Todd Lincoln that I knew that this was a play that we wanted to produce.  I look forward to seeing this production on stage in the spring.  I also thank Carl Wallnau for providing us with permission to show it in our hometown.”
 
“Mary Todd: A Woman Apart” explores the intriguing life of a woman who in her youth was said to be “the very creature of excitement.” Mary Todd’s life as the wife of Abraham Lincoln was destined to be mercurial.  Todd’s tenure in the White House as “First Lady” was mingled with misery and triumph.  In 1865, shattered by the death of her husband and son, Willie, Todd hovered between depression and tortured poverty.  In 1875, Todd’s son Robert brought insanity proceedings against his mother, which led to a four month residency in a private sanitarium.  To this day, the question of Todd’s sanity is the subject of speculation.

It is quite intriguing how Wallnau was inspired to write this play to begin with. Wallnau and his wife, Colleen, were in Washington, D.C. at the Fords Theatre where they saw a picture of Mary Todd at the age of 18.  Todd looked remarkably like a picture of Colleen that Wallnau had seen of her at the same age. 

“I thought Mary Todd would make a great subject for a play,” says Wallnau.  “I decided there and then to write it as kind of a Valentine present for Colleen.  It took four years since I read everything that I could about Todd, including material that was out of print and highly speculative.  The play was first showcased at Centenary Stage Company in 2001 and then at the Samuel Beckett Theatre in 2003. I am pleased that the Perry County Historical and Cultural Society will be producing it, as well.”

 Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary College’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix is designed to provide an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world.

Centenary College’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township (Morris County).  The Centenary College School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in two locations: Parsippany and Edison, and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey. 

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