America's Oldest · Founded 1808

O Captain, My Captain: Whitman's Lincoln premieres in Studio 3!

December 22, 2008

Bill Van Horn as Walt Whitman. Photo: Sara Allen.

PHILADELPHIA, PA: The Walnut Street Theatre's 2008-2009 Independence Studio on 3 season continues with O Captain, My Captain: Whitman's Lincoln, the story of two great men with one grand vision for America. Directed by Barrymore Award winner Bruce Lumpkin and featuring Bill Van Horn as Walt Whitman, O Captain, My Captain: Whitman's Lincoln starts on January 20, opens on January 22 and closes February 8.

O Captain, My Captain: Whitman's Lincoln takes us to the Camden, New Jersey home of one of America's most influential and original voices, Walt Whitman. Often called the father of free verse, Walt Whitman was much like his writing: bold, enigmatic, and always captivating. It is the spring of 1887, and Whitman is preparing to tour the country with a solo performance of his works based on the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Whitman has gathered a group of his closest friends and associates (the audience) in the parlor of his home for a final "dress rehearsal" prior to his first public performance in New York City. What follows is the tragic, yet ultimately triumphant, story of Lincoln's legacy as told through the words of Whitman himself.

2009 marks not only the 200th anniversary of the Walnut Street Theatre, but also the bicentennial celebration of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. The world premiere O Captain, My Captain: Whitman's Lincoln is a perfect addition to this year of celebration for the Walnut. Author and performer Bill Van Horn has spent the last year writing, researching, and fine tuning this effort of bringing Walt Whitman to life on stage. Bill has appeared at the Walnut in a number of different roles over the past few seasons. He has appeared onstage with Man of La Mancha, Carousel, Studio 3's The Dishwashers and The Fantasticks (among others). Backstage, Bill has directed productions for all three Walnut series, including A Christmas Carol, The Dishwashers, Forrest: A Riot of Dreams of last season's hit production of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple. Bill is a resident of South Philadelphia, and spends his summers with the Theatre at Monmouth in Maine.

Guiding this tour-de-force is Barrymore-Award winning director Bruce Lumpkin. Bruce has directed numerous hit Mainstage productions, including last season's Man of La Mancha, Cabaret, Evita, Grand Hotel, La Vie En Bleu, Godspell and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel among others. He is no stranger to Studio 3 however, having directed the crowd pleasing Flight: A Musical Journey with David Jackson in 2005. He is joined in this endeavor by an all-Philadelphia design team that includes Set Designer Glen Sears, Costume Designer Mary Folino, Lighting Designer Mark Grady and Sound Designer Mark Valenzuela.