Alton Little Theater will reprise “Shenandoah” for the big spring musical with co-director Kevin Frakes again portraying the role of Charlie Anderson, a role he originated in 1998 when Director Emeritus Cliff Davenport directed the production.
Frakes and Davenport first saw the hit musical in 1975 in New York and vowed to one day stage the epic tale of a family torn apart during the Civil War. Co-directors Frakes and Jean Heil decided the time was right to stage the story for both new and old audiences. A history teacher by day, Heil says the show’s beautiful ballads about the family’s struggles to stay together through the folly of war have particular meaning in today’s world. Frakes is joined in the ensemble by 28 other players, four of whom were also in ALT’s original production. The cast (featuring 11 new players to the Alton Little Theater stage) reflects the family ties woven into the show’s fabric. The players range in age from 12 to 70, including two sisters, two sets of fathers and sons, and a grandmother and granddaughter. Four of the actors are either immediate or extended family — and several men in the cast are growing beards for the first time in their lives.
Michael Frazier will handle musical direction for the production, which was based on the 1965 Jimmy Stewart film of the same name. Frakes says that the poignant messages of lost innocence and enduring faith and love will inspire a new audience of fans and he is enjoying returning to an iconic role that remains a treasured memory for him of sharing a vision with Cliff Davenport during what was to be Davenport’s last musical production.
“Shenandoah” will take the stage March 19-29, with eight performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. March 22 and March 29. Tickets can be purchased during box office hours (by phone or in person) 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, (618- 462-3205); online purchase through www.altonlittletheater.org/. Reservation and ticket information is available at (618) 462-6562.