Shows and Performances

Theater and Shows:

Union Theater

Union Theater is home to the ALPLM’s popular show Lincoln’s Eyes, which reflects upon President Lincoln’s life and legacy. This immersive experiential theater will surround you with special effects and bring history to life.

Learn more about Union Theater

Ghosts of the Library

A theatrical spectacle and a wonderment in storytelling - our library archivist hosts you in our Holavision® theater, which answers the question, “Why save all this old stuff?”.

Learn more about Ghosts of the Library

The Mr. Lincoln Theater

Discover special short-form video features which change periodically in the Mr. Lincoln Theater. These features often compliment the current exhibit in the Illinois Gallery or highlight stories coinciding with cultural heritage month acknowledgements. The theater also hosts special talks by historians and educators, check the calendar of events for details.

Learn more about The Mr. Lincoln Theater

Current Shows / Productions:

Small Beginnings

Small Beginnings tells the story of Robert Smalls, an American publisher, and businessman. Born into enslavement, Smalls commandeered a Confederate ship during the Civil War, freeing himself, his crew, and their families. Written by and featuring ALPLM Historical Actor Reggie Guyton, accompanied by Randy Irwin this short-form production in our Union Theater includes interactive audience Q&A.

Small Beginnings

On Theaters and Shows page.

Lilacs and Letters (coming in 2024)

In the shadows of an early morning in 1865, American poet and journalist, Walt Whitman, sits among the sleeping wounded at the Armory Military Hospital in Washington D.C.  Whitman reflects on national grief, as he puts finishing touches on his poetry, eulogizing President Lincoln.  This one-man play tells how Whitman would often visit soldiers during his spare time, dressing wounds, sitting bedside, and writing letters home for them.  Running Time: 15 minutes. This production is being created in-house and will premier in 2024. ALPLM historic actor Zaxxson Nation wrote and stars in this one-person feature.

Past Productions:

The theater is a major element here at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum and we are fortunate to have great support and high caliber talent in staging all kinds of theatrical productions. 

Union Theater, home to our Lincoln's Eyes show, transforms to a mainstage where theater productions occur. Past productions include The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, Reunion, Lincolnesque, Mister Lincoln, Flight, The Last Full Measure, The Heavens Are Hung in Black, and Five Presidents.  Author events, musical programs, and lectures take place throughout the year.

  • A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens: presented as a one-hour abridged stage reading in both our first year of operation and again in 2016.  This classic is a favorite across all generations. December 2005, 2016.
  • Reunion, by Jack Kyrielesion and Ron Holgate.  It is 1890 and Harry Hawk has gathered a small troupe of actors to tell the epic story of the Civil War.  With music and dialog from the era, Reunion is a unique narrative of the American Civil War.  Spring, 2006 & 2007.
  • The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, by James Prideaux:  one of the best plays written about Mary Lincoln, this play depicts the final 17 years of former first lady’s life following her husband’s assassination.  May & October 2007.
  • Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ 100 Years: based on the popular book, this play has us spending the day with 1
  • The Civil War, by Frank Wildhorn, Jack Murphy, and Gregory Boyd: The musical centers on the America Civil War with musical numbers portraying the war through Union, Confederate, and the enslaved viewpoints.  Summer 2008, 2009,  & 2014 March 2008.
  • Lincolnesque, by John Strand: a modern play about a campaign speech writer who juggles the world of Washington politics while caring for his brother, a brilliant political staffer who is convinced he is Abraham Lincoln after suffering a mental breakdown. October 2008.
  • One Destiny, by Richard Hellesen:  Originally commissioned by Ford’s Theatre in 2006, One Destiny tells the story of Harry Hawk, an actor in Our American Cousin and Harry Ford, Assistant Manager of the theatre.  The two men meet on the stage of Ford’s theater and discuss the recent assassination of President Lincoln. In addition to their main roles, each actor portrays several other characters such as performers, stagehands, and audience members.  One Destiny engages the audiences in different ways. The play brings history to life by providing a glimpse into the lives of real characters from the 1860s. Following each performance, the actors conduct a short Q & A with the audience. 
  • Flight, by Charlayne Woodard:  On a Georgia plantation in 1858, a young mother is suddenly sold, leaving behind her husband and their five-year-old son. Through a magical evening of storytelling, music and dance, the enslaved community comes together to heal and strengthen themselves.  March 2011.
  • The Heavens Are Hung in Black by Pulitzer Prize nominee James Still: a personal interpretation of the fevered, emotional months between the death of Abraham Lincoln’s young son and the signing of The Emancipation Proclamation.  November 2012.
  • Mary and Myra, by Catherine Filloux:  In the summer of 1875, Mary Lincoln resides in an asylum, sent there by her only living son. Her progressive friend Myra Bradwell (America's first woman lawyer) arrives to help Mary gain her release by exposing the injustices of her trial. But Myra's motives and Mary's sanity are both up for debate, as they grapple with their pasts and their perceptions of freedom and womanhood. (Winter, 2013)
  • The Last Full Measure, by Ken Bradbury: a fascinating one-man play about Lincoln’s thoughts between the time he was shot and the time he died.  November 2014.
  • Five Presidents, by Emmy Award-Winning writer Rick Cleveland: a fictional glimpse into the holding room where Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton were gathered just prior to Richard Nixon’s funeral.  May 2019.

Check our calendar of events for upcoming performances.  

Living History / Costumed Interpretation:

On any given day, guests can encounter actors portraying characters in exhibits, hear a civil war band, engage with 19th Century characters and storytellers, listen to 19th-century musicians and choirs performing in our central Plaza, or even attend a Civil War ball and learn the social dances popular during Lincoln’s Presidency.

Francis Carpenter, portrayed by ALPLM historical actor, Ted Keylon greets guests in the Cabinet Room

ALPLM historical actor, Zaxxson Nation portrays a witness to Lincoln’s assassination in Ford’s Theater

Historical actor and musician, Randy Irwin performs in the museums plaza

Gallery of Images

Union Station- Live Performances and Living History

Pictures for the Union Station Page of our Live Performances and Living History

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