Jacksonville residents got to sing a song or two with President Lincoln and Chris Vallillo last night at Illinois College as they were transported to stories in the round. “Lincoln: The Great Communicator” made its inaugural performance at the Sibert Theatre last night in Jacksonville. Vallillo and George Buss, playing the part of the 16th President of the United States related some of Lincoln’s travels in Jacksonville as well as the stories behind some of his most famous speeches.
Buss read selections from Lincoln’s most famous speeches while Vallillo performed selections “Hoosen Johnny”, “Oh Freedom”, a selection from Stephen Foster, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again,” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” among others.
Heather Wickens, Program Manager of the Looking For Lincoln & Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area said this is one of several programs that the heritage area hosts or sponsors in the area throughout the year. Looking For Lincoln several signature events in the 43-county wide heritage area, including the Lincoln Day Civil War battle re-enactments near Pittsfield in the first weekend of June each year and then they also support Springfield’s ‘History Comes Alive’ in downtown Springfield for 10 weeks. “We also right now have a traveling exhibit called ‘The Illinois Freedom Project’, and it’s traveling around to different communities. We have 28 Looking For Lincoln communities, and it’s going to be stopping in Barry this summer in June.”
Wickens said that in the two years of the “Lincoln: The Great Communicator” series which they receive grants from the Illinois Arts Council to produce, last night’s performance in Jacksonville was one of the largest crowds they had seen for the show with over 150 people from the community and students in attendance.