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Opera House Celebrates Civil War Sesquicentennial with Multimedia Production
Published Friday, July 8th, 2011 in 1891 Fredonia Opera House
Thomas Loughlin stars in A Better Band Than Mine, a one-man multimedia production, at the Fredonia Opera House on Sat., July 16, at 7 p.m. (Subm. photo)

FREDONIA, NY — The 1891 Fredonia Opera House gives a nod to the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War with a one-man, multimedia production on Saturday, July 16, at 7 p.m. A Better Band Than Mine stars Thomas Loughlin and also is being presented as part of Fredonia’s Victorian Dazzle Festival.

A Better Band Than Mine is based on the actual letters of Civil War Musician, J. Herbert George, 10th Vermont Infantry. In the production, Loughlin plays a homeowner who while exploring the attic uncovers a trove of Civil War memorabilia, including a drawerful of letters from George – letters that describe the Civil War experience and convey a whole range of emotions surrounding his service.

Created in 2002 and originally presented at both the Opera House and in Riverhead, on Long Island, A Better Band Than Mine was the brainchild of Loughlin and Jim Davis. Subsequently, Davis has written a book based on the letters that is expected to be published in December.

“The show grew out of Jim’s interest and research in the Civil War,” says Loughlin. “And as I read through the letters he had uncovered, the drama and emotion conveyed in their prose was so strong that the idea of turning it into a dramatic reading was immediate.”

“The production contains a wonderful mix of drama, technology and music,” notes Opera House Executive Director Rick Davis. “Projected images and recorded music are combined with Loughlin’s reading of the letters in a very effective way. An informal story line weaves through these elements to bring it all together.”

The Civil War forms the backdrop for A Better Band Than Mine, a one-man multimedia production starring Thomas Loughlin, which will be presented at the Fredonia Opera House on Sat., July 16, at 7 p.m. (Subm. photo)

Loughlin currently is chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at SUNY Fredonia. He has been teaching in the program since 1988, specializing in acting and directing. In 2010, he was named a Distinguished Teaching Professor by the SUNY Board of Trustees, one of only eight professors at SUNY Fredonia to be so honored.

He is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and has performed extensively in the city of Buffalo, with such theatres as the Kavinoky Theatre, the Irish Classical Theater Company, Buffalo Ensemble Theatre and Buffalo United Artists. He also has performed several seasons with the Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare in Delaware Park, and spent a year on tour with the Blackfriars Stage Company Atomic Fission Tour of the American Shakespeare Center.

His interest in digital technology led him to create and direct several multimedia productions (including A Better Band Than Mine) and to help form and head the Media Arts Program at SUNY Fredonia, spending three years as the Chair of the Department of Visual Arts and New Media.

A Better Band Than Mine tickets are $15 ($13 for Opera House members, $8 for students) and may be purchased in person or by phone at 716/679-1891 Tuesday through Friday, 1-5 p.m. and Saturday, 2-5 p.m. This event is made possible, in part, with support from the United Arts Appeal of Chautauqua County.

The 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported not-for-profit organization located in the Village of Fredonia Town Hall in downtown Fredonia. A complete schedule of events for the Opera House is available at www.fredopera.org.

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