‘Honest Abe: The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln’ at Sandy Spring Theatre Group by Paul M. Bessel

Exactly 150 years ago this weekend, Abraham Lincoln went to the theater and saw a play starring Booth (Edwin, not John Wilkes). This same weekend in 2014, I also went to the theater and was moved by a stunning one-man show starring Bill Spitz as Abraham Lincoln that kept me captivated every minute. Directed by Karen Dugard, Spitz’s look, voice, demeanor, accent, and expressions were perfection and very convincing.

Bill Spitz as President Abraham Lincoln.
Bill Spitz as President Abraham Lincoln.

Bill Spitz displays a remarkable knowledge of Lincoln’s early life, the women he loved, his law practice and political activities, and the deep emotional effect slavery and the lives lost in the Civil War had on Lincoln, who always had his eye on the critical issue of preserving our country and what it represented for all people.

Spitz not only physically resembles the 16th President, but more importantly, he displays Lincoln’s down-to-earth personality, sense of humor, and inner strength. Spitz also has an encyclopedic knowledge of Lincoln and the Civil War, and a friendly manner. As the show progressed, I felt like Lincoln was personally speaking to me as he must have done when he spoke to his close friends.

Through Spitz we learn that Lincoln is a slow learner — but an even slower “forgetter.” His life’s passion is reading; he always has a book with him while doing his chores and his first true love – Anne Rutledge – was a woman who loved reading as much as he did. When she died at the young age of 22, he went into a deep “melancholia,” but then he realized that life was about, “not seeing rose bushes having thorns – but seeing thorn bushes having roses.” He tells us that he doesn’t like to work very much, so he decides to become a politician.

My favorite story of the evening proves that political humor hasn’t changed in more than 150 years; Lincoln describes the city of Springfield when it first becomes the capital of Illinois: “There were more wild pigs running around than politicians — and it was hard to tell them apart — my apologies to the pigs.”

At the end of his performance, Spitz recites The Gettysburg Address, as I have never heard it recited before – each word and sentence swelling with emotion – as he speaks of remembering all those soldiers – on both sides of the Civil War – who fought for what they believed in, and the need to unite as all Americans: “That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” It’s spine-tingling.

Bill Spitz.
Bill Spitz.

During Honest Abe: The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, you will laugh with and at Abraham Lincoln, feel his painful losses, and realize the genius of our 16th President – all brought to life by the astounding performance of Bill Spitz. This is a show everyone should see. You’ll have a great time and learn so much about one of the most fascinating men and leaders in our country’s history.

Performances continue tonight at 7:30 PM and at 2 PM on Sunday at Asbury Methodist Village’s (across from Lakeforest Mall), Rosborough Theatre – 409 Russell Avenue, in Gaithersburg, MD.. Purchase your tickets at the door. Credit cards will be accepted. Ticket prices are $15 for Adults, $10 for Children 12 years and younger, and Children 5 and under are Free. Credit cards are accepted.

Here are directions.

Bill Spitz on His One-Man Show ‘Honest Abe: The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln” Playing This Weekend at the Rosborough Theatre, in Gaithersburg, MD by Mara Bayewitz.


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