How It’s New York:  The actors are all NY veterans, and playwright L.E. McCullough is a regular at St. James Gate Session in Maplewood (my local!).  He’s written books and collections of tunes, and I had the pleasure of boasting “Oh I know Larry” when someone my Alaskan Celtic Music Cruise was taking a tune from his book,The Complete Irish Tinwhistle Tunebook (Oak Classic Pennywhistles)
How It’s Irish:  22 of America’s 44 Presidents have at least a smidgen of Irish ancestry, starting with Andrew Jackson, whose parents emigrated from County Antrim two years before his birth in South Carolina, up to Barack Obama, the pride of Moneygall, County Offaly.  But not only that.  What Irish man isn’t hung up on his mama?  Mother Machree, indeed.

“First Mothers” Pays Visit to New Jersey Feb. 15!

Free Admission,  7:30 p.m. at Livingston Public Library, 10 Robert Harp Drive Livingston, NJ.

A new play presented by Pages of History details powerful maternal impact on future Presidents.  With Presidents’ Day next week, it’s a good time to think about how the presidents came to be who they are!  What did they absorb with their mothers’ milk?

The stories of 14 of these remarkable women are told in First Mothers: The Women Who Raised America’s Presidents produced by Pages of History, Inc. and directed by Deb Guston.

“These women not only gave birth to eventual Presidents but in so doing helped shape the destiny of the United States as we know it today,” says McCullough. “You start digging into the early lives of the Presidents, and it becomes quickly apparent that the essential ethical character and philosophical outlook of each were strongly molded by his mother.”

Among the First Mothers profiled are Elizabeth Jackson, who risked her life arranging a prisoner exchange to free her 13-year old son, Andrew, sick with smallpox in a British Revolutionary War jail.

“These were women of action, no matter how remote they were from the centers of power or how humble or restricted their personal circumstances,” says McCullough. “They all had deep religious conviction and an unshakeable belief that an individual’s moral strength would create a better world.”

First Mothers:  The Women Who Raised America’s Presidents stars veteran New York actresses Wynne Anders, Lisa Bansavage, Laura Bosley and Vivian Meisner.

With 22 published books of original plays and monologues and more than 180 plays in print, L.E. McCullough is among the nation’s most prolific and widely-distributed historical dramatists.

His Plays of America from American Folklore has been named to Glencoe/McGraw-Hill’s Recommended Children’s Reading List, along with literary classics such as Great Expectations, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Separate Peace, Lord of the Flies, Our Town and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

McCullough’s historical playwriting commissions include works on WW II journalist Ernie Pyle, 1920s jazz bandleader Charlie Davis (Indiana Historical Society), pharmaceutical magnate Col. Eli Lilly (Ninteenth Star Productions), Ben Franklin (Historic Philadelphia, Inc.), U.S. Constitution (National Constitution Center), Galileo (First Run Productions) and Battle of Trenton (Magnet Theatre). His stage play on legendary African-American pianist Leroy Carr, Blues for Miss Buttercup, won the Urban Stages Emerging Playwrights Award for its New York City debut.

His most recent New York production was as book writer for Orphan Train, a searing look at America’s “surplus children” that premiered at the New York Musical Theatre Fest and was directed by Patricia Birch.

“One of the things I like best about writing historical drama is the opportunity to portray major themes and events through the prism of individual stories,” says McCullough. “These women were ordinary American mothers who never stopped believing that faith and hard work can change the world in extraordinary ways, starting with the family. That’s always a story worth telling.” 

Where: Livingston Public Library, 10 Robert Harp Drive, Livingston, NJ 07039
7:30 pm; Admission is free.
call (973) 992-4600 for information

Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.