Thirty years ago, Newsweek magazine celebrated its 50th anniversary issue by featuring five Springfield families and how they achieved the American dream. On Friday, the Historical Society and Springfield Stageworks will unite to commemorate that event with a fundraiser called Spotlight on History.
Bill Schwartz, development coordinator of the Heritage Center of Clark County said the event is the first of what both groups hope will be an annual affair.
“We have built a display about that time in Springfield when the Newsweek writers were here. It features a lot of photos of families and community events in the mid-’80s. On Friday, we’ll host a cocktail party where we’ll unveil the display, then we’ll stroll down to the State Theater for the Stageworks production of an original play.”
Larry Coressel, Stageworks president and director of the production, said the play, “Revisiting the American Dream,” was written by a local journalist, Tom Stafford, a longtime writer for the Springfield News-Sun.
Stafford now gets to add “playwright” to his resume. “It’s not long, maybe about a half-hour, and I tried to incorporate humor into it,” he said. “There are a lot of visuals in this play. In all, there are 53 slides.”
Stafford said the play consists of an introduction and three acts. One act is set in the old Elite Café. That’s where the Newsweek people gathered when they were in town writing the story.
There’s an act in which the Madonna of the Trail takes a tour of Springfield before moving to her new “home” on Main Street. She talks about the changes that have taken place over the last 30 years, like the tearing down of Memorial Hall, building the new library and refurbishing the old city hall into the home for the Heritage Center.
Stafford said one of the biggest things that have happened in the last 30 years was the election of a black U.S. president. “I used that as the backdrop to update the story about the Bacon family. Dorothy Bacon was a significant advocate for civil rights here.”
The event is $50 per person. $30 of each ticket goes to benefit the Historical Society and Stageworks. Doors will open at 7 p.m. at the Heritage Center for a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres. Following the play, guests will return to the Heritage Center for dessert. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at the Heritage Center, or you can charge your tickets by calling 324-0657 and they will be held at will call.
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