Tintypes: A journey through American History

A production of the musical, Tintypes will take place at the Quirk/Sponberg Theatre on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22 at 7 p.m., Nov. 23 at 2 p.m., Dec. 4, Dec. 5 and Dec. 6 at 7 p.m., and Dec. 7 at 2 p.m.

A live music ensemble will accompany the musical, and the usual cast, normally made up of five members has been expanded to 12. It will be directed by Wallace Bridges, and the music will be directed by Howard Cass.

Tintypes takes place at the turn of the 20th century. Famous historical characters such as President Teddy Roosevelt, social activist Emma Goldman, Vaudeville star Burt Williams and even silent film actor Charlie Chaplin all are title characters in the production.

It is about their journeys and reflections of this time period of America. It covers events of the Industrial Revolution and Hollywood’s silent film era, all the while being illuminated with the music of the times. Famous patriotic tunes such as “Yankee Doodle Dandy” will ring familiar with audiences.

Bridges said the cast and crew have made an effort to creatively bring to light the important influence that African Americans had on this time in history.

“It’s not as light as it normally would be because what I’ve done is brought the African American identity to the surface,” he said. “When you see a typical production of it there’s usually two white women, two white men, and one black woman. What I’ve done is I’ve cast three black men. There are probably seven or eight songs that were written by black men. Instead of Suzanna’s character, we have Burt Williams who was a Vaudevillian blackface during this period, and most people don’t even know about him.”

Photographs of the era will be strategically shown throughout the musical, and there will be five silent films shown throughout the production.

Professor Bridges said he expects the production to strike a chord with old and young audience members alike.

“For students, I really believe this is a historical documentary told through music,” Bridges said. “We’re using kind of a solid film approach that makes it seem like film. Older audience members will probably feel a little closer to nostalgic, and I think that college students will get an education, get their eyes opened, especially about how the African American identity fit into the fabric of American culture and music, which often gets ignored.”

The musical is recommended for viewers ages 10 and up, and tickets are $15 for regular admission, $12 for students and seniors, $9 for MAINSTAGE patrons, and $7 for children ages 10-12. You can buy your tickets at the Convocation Center, the Student Center ticket office, or the Quirk Box Office in person. You can also call for tickets at (734) 487-2282, or visit emutix.com.

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