‘Living Voices’ to tell Revolutionary War story of black brothers, at First Night Morris 2019

'Living Voices' will tell the story of black brothers divided by the Civil War, at First Night Morris 2019.
'Living Voices' will tell the story of black brothers divided by the Civil War, at First Night Morris 2019.

By Marion Filler

Rachael McClinton, originally from Morristown, and her husband Michael McClinton founded the unique concept of Living Voices – a compelling way to bring history to life.

He was in New York City, the winner of three Emmys at PBS, and she was an actor and playwright in Seattle.

First Night 2019 logoThey brainstormed long distance and came up with a format.

“We wanted to integrate archival historical film imagery in synchronization with a live performer,” Rachael says.

On New Year’s Eve in Morristown, they will present Our Revolution at First Night Morris 2019.

Performances are scheduled at the County Administration Building, 10 Court St., in the Freeholders Room, at 7:15 pm and 8:15 pm.

Celebrating its 27th year, First Night Morris consists of more than 100 top artists and 81 events at 23 venues, all within an easy walk or free shuttle bus ride. This festive evening, which includes fireworks at 9:15 pm and midnight, is organized by Morris Arts.

Our Revolution is the story of Peter Freeman, a free black man in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1770s, whose brother is captured, sold into slavery, and forced to fight for the South. The brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the Revolutionary War.

The first Living Voice production was about Anne Frank, starring Rachael, and produced by Michael.

It proved so successful, they now have 12 programs and a company of 30 actors.

“Because of my connection to New Jersey and New York, we almost immediately began training actors to do the programs in Seattle, L.A. Denver, New York, New Jersey, Philly and Florida. But our offices are in Seattle,” says Rachael.

This is storytelling on many levels. Extraordinary actors perform against a backdrop of film and music, often with props, sometimes in costume. The real magic happens with an atmospheric, seamless blend of sound and imagery that support the storyline yet never overshadow the actor.

To find out what happens to Peter Freeman, you will walk in the footprints of a soldier in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Share his experience as he struggles to find a place for himself during the birth of a new country.

Brian Anthony Simmons will star as Freeman. He has a degree in theater performance and in addition to Living Voices, has a weekly gig with an improv group in New York called “8 is never enough.”

He hopes to “serve the story,” and create art along the way.

First Night Morris starts at 4:45 pm on New Year’s Eve and concludes with midnight fireworks over the Morristown Green. One admission badge gets you into as many performances as you can manage. Badges are $25, or $90 for a four-pack. They may be purchased online line or at the Mayo Performing Arts Center box office at 100 South St., (973) 539-8008. Parking will be free at municipal lots in Morristown. MorristownGreen.com is a proud supporter of First Night Morris.


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