When actors signed up to play characters in the Kentucky Humanities Council’s Chautauqua program, they thought they’d be playing schools, libraries, community meetings and things of that sort.
“I never even thought I’d perform in the Singletary Center,” said George McGee, who portrays Henry Clay, a few hours before he would take the stage of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Humanities Council and University of Kentucky Opera Theatre’s production of Our Lincoln.
McGee’s Clay is one of several Chautauqua characters in the Our Lincoln production, including EmilieTodd Helm, Lincoln’s sister-in-law, played by Betsy Smith of Cynthiana; Mary Owens, Lincoln’s first romance, played by Barbara Flair of Greensburg; and Lincoln himself, played by Jim Sayre of Lawrenceburg.
All said the Kennedy Center was far beyond the expectations they ever had for their parts. They also said that it took them off their games a little bit.
“Eye contact with the audience is really important to the character,” said Flair. “So it’s kind of hard when you look out and all you see is white light.”
But none of the performers would trade away the experience, even if it means adjusting their acts a bit.
“I’m just proud to be here,” Sayre said. “It’s humbling.”