Today’s Washington Times carries an excellent article on the renovation work which has been ongoing at the old Ford’s Theater edifice for the last year or so, as it prepares to reopen.
Those who have been there for plays remember the really uncomfortable wooden chairs, which have now been replaced with padded theater type folding seats. I’m sure the heating and a.c. have also seen some improvement. Overall it remains (at least in what one sees) much as it did on the night of Lincoln’s shooting, as the people doing the work relied heavily on what we would today refer to as crime scene photos to get the right colors, wallpaper, lighting, chandeliers, etc.
The entry way has also been changed, and the museum downstairs updated as well. Adding things like Lincoln’s inaugural train car as well as the gun which shot him, will also be included, but the Museum itself will not open until May or June.
A raft of Lincolnesque plays begins commemorating Lincoln’s bicentennial observation, the first being “The Heavens Are Hung in Black.” The series concludes in March, as I recall, with the presentation of “Civil War,” a musical which was extremely well done the last time I saw it. We were with a bunch of online civil war enthusiast friends from all over the country, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the crowd when the final song was sung.
Done in a carefully historical way, it would be a good family outing to consider, since our school systems today seem to gloss over the entire war period. I hope it’s the same cast, as it was superb — one of the few plays I’ve seen where I rushed out to buy the CD of the score.
And in a renovated Ford’s Theater, with better lighting and better sightlines, it ought to be even more memorable.
The old building has been almost 100% redone over the years, a devastating fire took part of it, then when it was converted to a governmental office building, a floor/ceiling collapse killed a number of people and necessitated more renovation work. Only the outside really remains as it was then, but the inside with its Corinthian columns, ornamental plaster work and the ceiling mural are survivors of the massive 1968 restoration and now may be seen in all their glory.
Plan a trip down there!