A Review: CHER’s ‘Lincoln’ will go down in history

A Review: CHER’s ‘Lincoln’ will go down in historyBy JAYME KINARD

News Review Correspondent

Last week, the Christian Home Educators of Ridgecrest opened its original production, “Abraham Lincoln: The Compassionate Hero” to a healthy-sized, and appreciative, audience at RCA Church. I was lucky enough to see one of their performances, and was truly blown away.

The play was written by Tabitha Weaver, a Ridgecrest local and CHER alum, who now instructs American Government at Cerro Coso Community College. Turns out, she is also an extremely talented playwright.

The play, directed by CHER’s longtime champion of the organizations theatrical arm, “focuses on Lincoln’s presidency and the troubles he’s gone through in life from his mid-20s to his death, and how God’s providence moves him from one aspect of his life to another.”

The play is engages the audience in a way I’ve never experienced before. The Fourth Wall is a theatrical term for the imaginary “wall” that exists between the actors and the audience and the actors perform as if they have no knowledge of the audience’s presence. In Lincoln the actors “break the fourth wall”, meaning that there are bits of the play where the actors speak directly to the audience. This was interesting to watch because the actors alternated between “being in their own world” and being in mine.

The dialogue included direct quotes from famous historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln himself, William Herndon and many more, but encapsulated a modern tone overall by incorporating comedy and clever narration. In the play’s program, a note from the Author says one of her goals was to “let our audience see their leaders as real people”, and the play definitely accomplishes that, along with much more.

The actors — who range in age from elementary schoolers to recent high-school graduates — were unbelievably talented and showed unparalleled dedication to the play.

I had the pleasure of previewing a portion of the play two weeks before the opening, when some of the participants were still heavily reliant on reading from their script. Within those two weeks, those same actors completely transformed into their character, which shows how much hard work went into memorizing their part in that short timeframe.

Many of the actors, especially Dylan Menzel who plays Abraham Lincoln and Laurel Ennis who plays Mary Todd Lincoln embodied their characters perfectly. In all honesty, every actor showed their range of talent by flawlessly capturing the essence of their characters through the use of accents, movements and their expressions.

In addition to the outstanding script and acting, the props and costumes were stunning. Both were equally representative of their time. For example, the furniture had luxurious, intricate features, such as claw-feet couches and antique writing desks. The majority of the costumes were men’s suits and beautiful Victorian dresses. The dresses in particular looked remarkably authentic; the actresses even wore caged crinoline underskirts, which hold the exaggerated shape of the skirt.

In alignment with CHER’s mission of education, the play also serves to educate its audience on the nuances of our country’s historic conflict — some well known, some forgotten, and some that will surely be new to members of the audience. All told, the performance lasts a little more than three hours.

But the finished product is a testament to the tremendous amount of much work — on stage and behind the scenes — that went into the presentation.

If I could offer one piece of advice, it would be to see Abraham Lincoln: The Compassionate Hero before it closes. It offers something for all ages and is sure to be a great time for the entire family.

Story First Published: 2017-06-07