The Battle of Fort Donelson: A Retrospective.
Martha Parker’s little troupe that is known as the Dover Community Theater has created a masterpiece with their four-act play about the Civil War in Dover. Titled “The Battle of Fort Donelson: A Retrospective” the work is Director Dee Reynold’s outstanding tour de force of the times and actions of the local people of Stewart County and how they related to the war of northern aggression 150 years ago. The writing is superb, the acting brilliant, and the songs will absolutely take your breath away. Produced by Martha Parker who, along with Music Director Dan Dill and his Civil War Singers, pay meticulous attention to the detail of the words in the script as well as in their supreme choices of awe-inspiring music that honors the occasion of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Battle of Fort Donelson. Director Reynolds has beautifully meshed together a chronicle of truth and passion in her “labor of love” about the homelife in Stewart County as the American Civil War came to Dover. With a heretofore unmatched insight as to how Stewart Countians survived during this tumultuous time, The Dover Community Theater, a wonderful association of about 40 actors, writers, singers, and technicians, will stir your senses and give you pause to reflect on just how our ancestors coped with this epic event in their lives. With equal effort put forth in this production to both parts labor and love, as so eloquently pointed out by former Big Rock resident and retired school teacher Martha Parker, in her enchanting introduction, this play is a MUST-SEE not just for all Stewart Countians but for all Southerners, as well. It is a play for the ages and a play for all ages.
The Scene I cast includes Dan Griggs as Captain Jack Hinson in a masterful rendition of ”Captain Jack Hinson’s Revenge,” that captures perfectly the spirit of the family man and Stewart Countian that was “Captain Jack”. Johanna Bailey as his wife and Drew Scholes as his son, Frank, join Mr. Griggs on stage in a history revealing narrative that was extremely well written and well presented by Dan Griggs and his co-author, Martha Parker. The three actors are powerful in their interpretation of a family trying to piece together their lives through retribution and faith after suffering the loss of five of their children and their home to a War that has come to them.
It is Scene II, however, that is the most memorable of the play and steals the evening. In “A Candlelight Vigil,” a remarkable ensemble cast highlights the night with homespun humor, marked reality, and the most beautiful music that could ever grace a Godly man or woman’s ear. The beautiful singing, perhaps, is what you remember best. The songs will leave you, at once, both teary-eyed and joyful. It is a virtuoso performance by Music Director Dan Dill and his chorus that includes Emily Dill, Nellie Settle, Denise Moore, Mary Ann Jordan, and Paul Birney. The magnificent cast in Scene II is Denise Moore, Eva Linda Hays, Trenton Costin, Margaret Parker, Madison Wallace, Marlys Falkner, Vickie Morton, Dee Maria, Besty Tumelson, Brianna Brookes, Anne Barry, and Lisa Luton and they are all splendid! The innocence of the time, the genteel presence of the cast, and the force of the moment unite at once to forge a powerful sense of unique pride in what it means to be Stewart Countian and, more, what it means to be Southern. The Scene will leave you standing and cheering in your hearts.
In Scene III, “Tenting Tonight,” the cruel actuality of war is tempered with humour, witticism, and a feeling that these men could be your sons, your fathers, or your brothers as they struggle to survive a conflict that has not only chased them from their homes but seems to be now, in the harsh light of reality, a lost cause. Written by Reverend Donald Bailey, who also penned the exceptional song, “The Battle of Fort Donelson”, this scene is filled with an authentic dialogue that plunges the engaged audience into a time of history long since passed. The cast includes Rev. Donald Bailey, Michael Barry, Trenton Costin, James Morton, Paul Birney, George Copeland, Clifford Wooten, and Adam Janes.
Scene IV, “The Beginning of the End,” also written by Rev. Bailey, displays an unequivocally accurate portrayal of the actual events leading up to, and including, the surrender of Fort Donelson. The nervousness and fear of General Simon Buckner as he prepares for surrender and the disgust of the moment by Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest is laid bare for all to see. The cast of this scene includes Rev. Bailey, Drew Scholes, James Morton, Adam Janes, Donald Bailey, Joe Costin, Trenton Costin, George Copeland, Paul Birney, and Lisa Luton, who’s inspirational portrayal of the misplaced general, Simon Buckner, is original and intellectual genius.
I was ready to give the entire cast another curtain call. Their glee was evident as they closed the show. Bravo. Bravo!
A complete production such as this could not be attempted without the help of a hard working and dedicated technical staff. This staff includes Assistant Director Michelle Brooks with technical support by Bob Falkner, Walter Page, Martha Yanchyshyn, Don Young, and Carolyn Page.
Special thanks to the Civil War Singers for a magical musical evening.
Put this one on your bucket list! Its that good. Thank you, Martha Parker. Your Dover Community Theater is a resounding success! Thank you to all who worked so hard to bring this historic work to the people of Stewart County.
Robin Brandon firstname.lastname@example.org
For pictures of the event please contact Martha Yanchyshyn or visit her website www.sweetnsnappy.com
Upcoming sesquicentennial celebrations include:
Civil War Singers Concert
February 16th, 2012 @ 7:00 P.M.
Stewart County Visitor’s Center located @ 117 Visitor’s Center Lane on Highway 79 Dover, TN. 37058
The Civil War Singers will present a concert of Civil War songs at 7PM on February 16 at the Stewart County Welcome Center on Fort Donelson Boulevard in Dover, TN. Admission is free!
Fort Donelson Civil War Roundtable
February 16th, 2012 @ 7:00 P.M.
The Fort Donelson Civil War Roundtable event features a discussion with Karel Lea Biggs entitled “Life in Occupied Tennessee.” Come hear and talk with authors, historians, and people interested in Civil War History. The lecture begins at 7PM and is free and open to the public. For more information, contact John or Nikki Walsh at (931) 801-4530.
Lt. Col. Nathan Brandon House Open
February 17th, 2012 from 1:00-4:00 PM
The historic Nathan Brandon house, formerly the Rice house, located at 316 Church Street in Dover will be open for visitation on Friday, February 17th from 1 to 4 PM. This is a rare and wonderful opportuntiy to glimpse into the past and into a prized piece of our local history. Many, many years have gone by since this beautiful home was open for public viewing. Visitors will not only witness the beauty but, also, gain a historical appreciation for a landmark that was once the home of former Dover, Tennessee State Representative, State Senator and Civil War participant, Lieutenent Colonel Nathan Brandon. This well preserved home has stood across three different centuries of Stewart County life and each room tells its own story. Please join Betsy Tumelson on Friday in a celebration of history and see for yourself what beautiful postbellum life was really like in Stewart County.
Civil War Ball
February 18th, 2012 @ 6:30 P.M.
The Stewart County Historical Society hosts the 8th Annual Civil War Ball on February 18. The event will be held at the Brandon Springs Youth Camp located just off the Trace on Brandon Springs Road in the Land Between The Lakes. Civil War Era clothing is required. There will be a sit-down dinner featuring Civil War Era Food, followed by a Civil War Era military-style ball. The ball will feature period dances and music provided by the 52nd Regimental String Band. Doors open at 6:30PM. Tickets are $30 per person. For tickets, call Tana Sheets at (931) 232-7468 or Don Young at (931) 232-7328.
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