Mr. History Musicals
A Letter From Quill’s Founder
America was founded as the most daring and exciting experiment in self- government the world had ever known. But if our citizenry loses sight of the importance of our past—if we stop learning from our history—we cannot continue to be the beacon of freedom and human rights that our forefathers fashioned. Unfortunately, there is evidence that this erosion of our connection with our heritage has already begun.
That’s why I founded Quill. Quill’s mission is “Teaching America’s Heritage Through Story and Song.” That word, “teaching,” is very important to us. We produce entertaining musicals, but we strive for something more than entertainment. We strive to educate. That is why all our musicals resonate on the sounding board of America’s core beliefs. We don’t just “do history.” We go beyond that to explore the philosophies and ideals that are the foundation of our country. Teachers love our approach because we give them not just a lesson plan, but the opportunity to have students experience what it was like to be the historical characters they would otherwise only read about.
We once wrote a musical about Lewis and Clark, and I’ve always been struck by the expansiveness of their vision and the incredible courage they exhibited to make it come true. I often feel Quill is on such a journey. We’ve pushed off, and I calculate we’re in Montana somewhere. There are some high mountains to cross and some mighty rivers to navigate, and we’ll never make it without adequate supplies. You, our friends, old and new, are those “supplies.” With your help we will accomplish great and important things. It is an exciting and tremendously worthwhile journey, and we gratefully invite you to join us.
Granville Wyche Burgess, Co-Founder and CEO
The Mr. History Musicals
The Last Full Measure
The Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address
The heartbreak and joy in the lives of six citizens are played out against the backdrop of this greatest battle in the Civil War, ending with a stirring anthem of Lincoln’s famous Address.
Love, honor and peace are put to rest as Robert E. Lee tries to turn the tide of the Civil War. African-American runaways, a Union corporal and his fiancé, Rebel soldiers bent on destruction – who will answer the call to freedom and union?
EVERYBODY’S WATCHING takes place in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, during the hot summer of 1787 when delegates gathered to write a new Constitution. As five students struggle to complete a “boring” history assignment on the Constitution, Mr. History magically appears and convinces them to time travel back to Philadelphia, 1787, and participate in the framing of the Constitution. Sherman’s Connecticut Compromise allows progress to be made, and the delegates vote themselves a vacation. George Washington and Randolph go fishing, where they meet two children: the daughter of an immigrant and the child of a slave. In “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” an anthem to inclusiveness, the children inspire the grown-ups to make sure that the Constitution includes everyone, no matter creed or color.
DREAM … is the story of the days during the early 1950’s, when young Martin Luther King, Jr. studied theology at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. Through his reading and his experiences during this time – especially the painful experience of having to renounce his love for a white woman in order to preserve his career as a teacher in the black community – King developed and refined his theory of nonviolent resistance based on the Greek idea of “agape”, a love higher than one’s self. Later, meeting Rosa Parks and leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, King’s beliefs were sorely put to the test. He had to endure threats, bombings, and jail, while convincing his followers not to answer violence with violence, but with agape. The musical excitingly dramatizes how a person can carry the beliefs and principles learned in the classroom out into the “real world”, and how that one person’s philosophy can transform the actions and feelings of an entire nation.
Quest for the West
The Lewis and Clark Expedition
Lewis and Clark actor with a snowy backgroundFive students are packing for an overnight canoe trip down the Delaware River. Their history teacher is trying to show them how much fun learning history can be by having them simulate Lewis and Clark’s Journey of Discovery in 1804. Charlie wants to bring his Gameboy to alleviate the boredom, but the teacher says they can bring only the kinds of supplies that Lewis and Clark might have carried. The Kids vent their frustration by chanting “I hate history!” Suddenly they are whirled about the stage. When things calm down, they see Mr. History and his magical History Trunk in their midst. In the song, “MAKE HISTORY,” Mr. History convinces the Kids to time-travel with him back to the days of Lewis and Clark, experience their Journey of Discovery first-hand and feel what it’s like to make history. To do so, each kid dons part of the dress of a real historical character and, through the magic of their imagination, becomes that person in the past.
Paul Revere Rides Again
The World’s Most Famous Ride
Two actors in colonial dress for Paul Revere Rides AgainFive students are studying together for a test on Paul Revere. Their mounting complaints are interrupted by the magical arrival of Mr. History and his History Trunk. He distributes costume pieces and tells the students that history will be a lot more fun if they’ll just use their imaginations. He plops Revere’s hat on Carlos, who begins exhorting his fellow Sons of Liberty to take action against the British. Singing “Time Travellin’”, Mr. History transports the students back in time.
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
In Glory Road! we reenact a slave family’s journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad, and students discover that learning history can be fun!
Five students and Mr. History play multiple parts in depicting the story of a runaway slave and his child who are led north by Harriet Tubman. They are chased by a slave-catcher in a series of exciting vignettes, and the child is separated from the father and Tubman. These two finally reach the safety of Quakers in Chester, PA, who disguise the slave father as a grieving widow in a funeral procession to get him safely onboard a ship bound for Canada. At the last minute, the slave-catcher shows up at the funeral with an affidavit for the slaves’ arrest, but the unexpected return of the lost child, combined with the outrage of the local populace, drives the slave-catcher away, and the slaves go free.
Returning to the present, the students are excited to learn more about history through the magic of time-traveling.