John Adams PORTRAYED BY PEYTON DIXON

John Adams, third President of these United States, was an imperfect, burdened, yet ever-striving man. In him we recognize the desire to be something more, the concerns about what others might see in us, the struggle for balance between our personal opinions and our public persona. Throughout his life, Adams faced many challenging situations, but perhaps what is even more impressive than how he tackled these issues, or his list of  accomplishments, is his humanity. While he did not necessarily believe in the innate goodness inside man, he did something remarkable, though sometimes unintentional–he strove for goodness.

Peyton Dixon, an interpreter with over a decade’s experience in interpretation and has been a professional actor for over twenty-five years. He has been seen as John Adams at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., Wilmington‘s Delaware Art Museum, and regularly at Independence Hall. He is a graduate of DuPont Manual/Youth Performing Arts School of Louisville, Kentucky, and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from Otterbein College of Westerville, Ohio. Peyton has traveled the country, performing in over 40 states (and commonwealths) in the continental United States.

In 2004 Peyton was captured by the spirit of both the well-known and  the everyday man of the eighteenth century—trying desperately to understand and make their place in new, exciting, and frightening world. He was particularly fascinated and impressed by the powerful yet (at the time) mostly unsung John Adams. His goal is to bring to light the accomplishments as well as the imperfections of John Adams, as well as our other founding fathers: to look beyond the statue, bring them off the pedestal, and see the everyman beneath.

Alexander Graham Bell Portrayed by Bob GleasON

Alexander Graham Bell is a portrait of a curious man with a great deal of energy, a big-hearted man who wanted to do good in this world. Born to a deaf mother, Alexander was taught elocution by his grandfather and his father who invented a phonetic alphabet called Bell’s Visible Speech. Alexander Graham Bell began teaching the deaf at age 14, believing they should be taught to speak. To earn money to open a school, Bell applied his talents to improve the telegraph, enabling more than one message to be sent at a time.  And that was just the beginning of a life spent exploring, inventing and improving his world. At the 1876 U.S. Centennial Exposition at Fairmount Park, Bell exhibited his telephone for the first time: the “tipping point” for the progress of the 19th century. Bell also married a deaf wife.

Bob Gleason’s enthusiastic portrayal of Alexander Graham Bell teaches us to be curious, to question and explore, and to help others. Bell is perfect for National Geographic Society events, for Green events (he coined the phrase: “greenhouse effect” in 1911!), and for events with scientists and/or inventors.

Invite Alexander Graham Bell to your event:

• Educational Programs: Presentation with Press Conference for schools, museums, libraries and historical sites • Parties: Entertaining Toasts, Relevant Quotes, Photo Ops for corporate, association and private social events • Bob Gleason: Bio of Actor/Historian, Reenactor, or Impersonator

Henry Box Brown PORTRAYED BY KEITH HENLEY
 

Henry Box Brown was a Virginia Slave who was forced to work in a Virginia plantation, but when his wife and children were sold to the owner of a South Carolina plantation owner he began to devise a way to escape to freedom. With the help of James C. A. Smith, a local shop keep and a member of the Philadelphia Abolitionist  he mailed himself in a crate traveling from Richmond, VA to Philadelphia PA. The trip was a success, but was a great hardship as the journey lasted twenty seven hours. Once in Philadelphia he became a noted abolitionist and eventually a showman.  His showmanship brought censure upon him by Frederick Douglas and other abolitionists, as they that in going public about his method of escape, he denied others the ability to use the same method. Themes addressed in this program are: Overcoming the Odds, Determination vs Bondage and Faith

Keith Henley’s background is one of great diversity.  He graduated South Carolina State College with a major in Chemistry and minors in mathematics and biology. Later, he went on to study Theatre Education at Camden County College Blackwood, NJ. He currently owns and operates J.O.Y. Productions, Queenie’s Homemade Sweets and Catering, & Alpha Designs. In addition he is the Artistic Director and Choreographer for Folkloric Heritage Culture Arts Company Inc. of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He began his historic interpretation career with Historic Philadelphia Inc. and has since worked for American Historical theatre and History First Hand and has performed for the Smithsonian Associates’ Teaching American History program, Historic Germantown, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia as well as local libraries.

Invite Henry Box Brown to your event:

• Educational Programs: Presentation with Q & A for schools, museums, libraries and historical sites • Parties: Entertaining Toasts, Relevant Quotes, Photo Ops for corporate, association and private social events • Keith Henley Bio of Actor/Historian or Interpretor, Reenactor, Impersonator.

George Washington Carver Portrayed by Keith Henley

George Washington Carver, better known as the Peanut Man, was the inventor responsible for redeveloping the southern crop industry after the Civil War. His sought alternative crops to cotton during the boll weevil blight in the 1920s, and his discoveries with  peanuts, sweet potato, and soy beans, changed the southern crop industry.  His ideas influenced farmers both here at home and countries abroad for many years. Carver was a man of strong religious beliefs and of great tenacity, in his interpretation, Henley discusses the power of faith, and reveals the strong will and determination of Carver.

Invite George Washington Carver to your event:

Educational Programs: Presentation with Q & A for schools, museums, libraries and historical sites

Parties: Entertaining Toasts, Relevant Quotes, Photo Ops for corporate, association and private social events

Keith Henley Bio of Actor/Historian or Interpreter

ICHABOD CRANE by Neill Hartley

Washington Irving and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Neill Hartley is a convincing Washington Irving, the father of the American short story, bringing you into Irving’s world, introducing you to his work, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the most famous short story ever written. The literary lion narrates his tale and then enters his story, becoming his alter ego, Ichabod Crane. Neill Hartley is a mesmerizing Ichabod Crane: Tall and slim like Ichabod, Neill was also born in upstate New York like Ichabod, teaches voice like Ichabod and rides horses like Ichabod. It’s perfect casting. And it makes for a perfectly eerie entertaining event.

Invite Neill Hartley’s Ichabod Crane, Washington Irving and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow to schools, libraries, museums, historic sites, retirement communities:

• Educational Programs: Ichabod Crane, Washington Irving and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 40-60 minutes plus Informational Section and Q & A for Schools, Libraries, Museums, Historical Sites • Pair with Edgar Allan Poe, Louisa May Alcott • Neill Hartley: Bio of Actor/Historian

Katharine Drexel PORTRAYED BY RENE GOODWIN

Although she was born into great wealth, her real treasure was her richness of spirit. Her life span of 96 years (1858 to 1955) covered a remarkable period in history which included: the entirety of the Civil War, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Red Cloud’s War and other major skirmishes with Native Americans out West, the implementation of the Jim Crow Laws and the Ku Klux Klan, the founding of the NAACP, and women’s suffrage.

Katharine Drexel was the second child of Francis Anthony Drexel and Hannah Langstroth and the niece of Anthony Joseph Drexel, founder of Drexel University. Bequeathed an inheritance of 7 million dollars by her father, Katherine’s life seemed destined to be that of a society lady of the Victorian Era. There were significant events that resulted in a departure from that course to the life she ultimately chose. Although philanthropy had always been a part of the Drexel life, it was after watching her stepmother suffer with cancer that Katharine realized that money did not give one an escape from pain or death. During a family trip out West in 1884, Katharine Drexel saw the plight and destitution of the Native Americans and decided to help. That is when she began her lifelong personal and financial commitment to help Native Americans and African Americans.

In a private audience with Pope Leo XIII in 1887 he suggested to Katharine that she become a missionary although she had already received proposals of marriage. And so her life’s course was forever altered.

Over the next 60 years, she touched the lives of millions by her commitment of her life and her material wealth. In 2000 she was canonized. The Vatican cited fourfold aspects of Drexel's legacy:

a love of the Eucharist and perspective on the unity of all peoples;

courage and initiative in addressing social inequality among minorities - one hundred years before such concern

aroused public interest in the United States;

her belief in quality education for all and efforts to achieve it;

selfless service, including the donation of her inheritance, for the victims of injustice.

Rene Goodwin is a professional actor, writer, songwriter, vocalist and voice teacher. She has created a body of work titled “Women of Note” which consists of theatrical monologues about the lives of twentieth century iconic women including “Eleanor Roosevelt – Part I: The Early Years”, “Part II: The War Years”, “Part III: The United Nations”; “ Dorothy Parker: Death and Taxes”; “My Friend, Jackie” about the life of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy; “New Jersey Ladies”; and “Golda Meir: A Life of Purpose” (this program is booked through GH Entertainment).

Her works are intended to present the subject as human beings who overcame challenges and did remarkable things. These works are intended to inspire, encourage, inform and entertain.

Read more about Rene Goodwin

Thomas Edison Portrayed by Bob Gleason
 

American inventor, scientist, and businessman Thomas Edison developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Edison was dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park." Less known is his brilliance as a business pioneer. By aligning multiple businesses to bring innovation to the marketplace, he laid the path for today's General Electric, the company that continues to ask the question: “Why predict the future when you can create it.”  Edison’s inventions changed the world. His story is the American Dream.

From humble beginnings, Thomas Edison worked as a salesman selling candy and newspapers on trains running from Port Huron to Detroit. He began his first entrepreneurial venture selling vegetables to supplement this income. His knack for invention initially included making improvements to the telegraph, but his invention of the phonograph in 1877 was the beginning of a technology-based empire. His business acumen eventually led him to found 14 companies, including General Electric, which is still in existence and is one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world. He modestly once said that his inventions were “one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Bob Gleason completely engages the audience with his portrayal of Thomas Edison. In addition to learning about the inventor’s life, inspirations and inventions, a visit with Thomas Edison will make anyone believe that with a little imagination, ingenuity, and a lot of hard work, great things are possible.

Invite Bob Gleason's Thomas Edison to your event:

Keynote Speaker: Individual or panel participants speaking on topics such as Entrepreneurship, Inventions
Educational Programs: Programs for Schools, Libraries, Museums, Historical Sites
Pair with Alexander Graham Bell, Samuel Morse, Thomas Paine
Bob Gleason: Bio of Actor/Historian

Matthew Henson PORTRAYED BY KEITH HENLEY

Receiving many honors posthumously, Matthew Henson was much overlooked throughout his entire career as an explorer. Though he traveled throughout the northern hemisphere and is acknowledged the first man to reach the North Pole, his accomplishments were overshadowed by his colleague, Commander Robert Perry.

Henson faced and overcame many of the limitations and struggles inherent for African Americans at the time. Orphaned at a young age, Henson worked hard to earn his way from being employed as a dishwasher, to a position as a Cabin boy, and eventually, he became a skilled navigator, and explorer.

Reflecting back he wrote two books about his experiences, “A Negro Explorer at the North Pole” and “Dark Companion”. The story of Matthew Henson’s fascinating life encourages one to believe in oneself despite the odds, and to rise above the limited expectations of others to reach any goal.

SHERLOCK HOLMES by Neill Hartley

Sherlock Holmes and the Speckled Band

Neill Hartley’s Sherlock Holmes is the 2nd most Google’d image of the fascinating detective and is in more than 16,000 German math text books: evidence that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s master detective continues to appeal to audiences around the world, especially as portrayed by Neill Hartley . The Adventure of the Speckled Band was one of 56 short Sherlock Holmes stories and was the author’s favorite tale because of its intriguing characters, especially the marvelous villain. About the same height and body type as Doyle’s detective, tall and elegant in his dark tux, yet physically imposing and strong, Neill Hartley brings what he terms, “full arrogance” to the role. Faithful to the short story and bringing authenticity through his skillful use of British and Scottish dialects, Neill Hartley’s Sherlock Holmes attracts avid audience members, including Sherlockian societies … again and again.

Invite Neill Hartley in Sherlock Holmes and the Speckled Band to schools, libraries, museums, historic sites, retirement communities • Educational Programs: Sherlock Holmes and the Speckled Band, 40-60 minutes. Informational Section plus Q & A for Schools, Libraries, Museums, and Historical Sites. • Pair with Edgar Allan Poe, Louisa May Alcott • Neill Hartley: Bio of Actor/Historian

One-Man show from NH Productions

Francis Scott Key PORTRAYED BY DOUG THOMAS

Maryland born Lawyer and author Francis Scott Key was engaged in negotiations regarding the release of American soldiers aboard the HMS Tonnant during the Battle of Baltimore. After dinner aboard the ship. Key was refused permission to leave in order to return to his own ship because it was believed that he had attained specific knowledge about the British fleet's position and strength. Thus being stranded, he was unable to do anything but watch, as the British began their assault on Fort McHenry in September of 1814. While returning to Baltimore, the images of the battle still fresh in his mind, he penned the poem "Defence of Fort McHenry" which later became adopted as our National Anthem in 1916.

Later in life he became a US District Attorney, and used his position to silence the anti-slavery movement. His position was that abolitionists were attempting foment rebellion and that statements by abolitionists asserting that there was no "mercy or justice" for the colored people of the area were "intended to injure, oppress, aggrieve, and vilify the good name, fame, credit & reputation of the Magistrates and constables" of Washington.

Doug Thomas is a professional actor with over 2 decades of experience. Local credits include The Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, Vagabond Theatre and others. He has been immersed in historical interpretation for over 15 years. Other characters in his repertoire include Meriwether Lewis, William Penn, John Paul Jones, Patrick Henry and a young Governor Livingston. He regularly performs at Independence Hall.

Joseph Leidy PORTRAYED BY KEN SANDBERG

Born in Philadelphia in 1823, Joseph Leidy is known as the Father of American Paleontology, Parasitology, and Microscopy.  Often called the “Last Man Who Knew Everything,” Leidy was an expert in all fields of natural science from the incredibly large to the incredibly small.  He described and assembled the first American Dinosaur, Hadrosaurus Foulkii, which was unearthed in 1958, and he discovered the Trichina larvae in pork.  During the Civil War, he served as a military surgeon at Satterlee General Hospital.

At the time of his death in 1891, Leidy was world renowned and respected by everyone in the scientific community.  While his work was prolific, he and his wife Anna Harden were unable to have children of their own, so after 12 years of marriage they adopted a 7-year-old girl named Allwina Franck.

Although his name is relatively unknown today, Leidy’s contributions to the world of science are considered, by those who know, to be indispensable, and, in many cases, his work is still used in teaching new generations of scientists.

Sandberg knew from a very young age that his would be the life of an actor.  He left his small town, Minnesota home for NYC at 18 years old to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.  After a touring the country with a children’s theatre, and a brief stint in a Jacksonville, FL dinner theatre, Ken found his way to Philadelphia in 2007.

Ken has worked with several Philadelphia theatre companies, including Quintessence, Plays and Players, Simpatico, Represented, and RenArt Puppet Company.  Given his love of acting and a family full of history teachers, it seems almost inevitable that Ken should have found his way to AHT, which he first joined in 2012, playing Joseph Leidy.

• Educational Programs: Presentation with Q & A for schools, museums, libraries and historical sites • Parties: Entertaining Toasts, Relevant Quotes, Photo Ops for corporate, association and private social events. • Ken Sandberg: Bio of Actor/Historian, Interpretor, Reenactor, or Impersonator.

Lewis & Clark

For more information about booking,call 215-625-0986.

Samuel Morse Portrayed by Bob Gleason

Bob Gleason’s Samuel Morse teaches us to never give up. Beginning as an artist interested in epic art that captured mythological subjects, Morse found that Americans were not willing to buy these large paintings that were expensive and weren’t portraits of themselves. Returning by boat from Europe, Morse heard discussions about messages being sent long distances over wire. Having become the best portrait painter of his era, Morse stopped painting, neglected his family and everything else, spending all his time and money inventing the telegraph and protecting his patents.

Samuel Morse may have been a successful inventor, but he failed as a human being. Cranky, pro-slavery, Morse hoped the telegraph would prevent a Civil War that the South might lose. Ironically, Morse’s telegraph helped the Union win the war by communicating and coordinating troop movements. We learn from Gleason’s Morse that not all famous people were nice or even admirable, but they may have done things that made other things possible. Morse was certainly useful, but you might not want to have him in your kitchen!

Invite Samuel Morse to your event: • Educational Programs: Program with Press Conference for schools, museums, libraries and historical sites • Parties: Mix & Mingle, Entertaining Toasts, Relevant Quotes, Photo Ops for corporate, association and private social events • Pair with Benjamin Franklin (fellow inventor), Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Edison • Bob Gleason: Bio of Actor/Historian

Lucretia Mott PORTRAYED BY KIM HANLEY

Quaker Minister, Abolitionist, Suffragist, and Anti-War Activist. Massachusetts

In an age when most women were not expected to think about issues of the day, Lucretia Mott not only contemplated them, but also spoke out on them. A follower of Elias Hicks, she served as a Public Friend who emphasized the divinity within every individual.

Mott supported the Anti-Slavery movement and advocated the use of Free Produce.  She was elected as an American Representative to the 1840 General (or World’s) Anti-Slavery Convention.  When women were excluded from participating, were required to sit in a segregated area, Mott began to realize that she must also muster her efforts towards women’s equality.  Mott joined Elizabeth Cady Stanton calling together the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY.

The words and lessons of Lucretia Mott continue to open minds and hearts to a simple truth:  If we embrace the inner light within ourselves, we fan the flame in others, and in time mankind will come to the full understanding that all people are created divine and equal.

Kim Hanley, an actor, singer, costumer and dancer, trained and danced from an early age with the School of American Ballet and the Eglevsky Ballet in New York, as well as with the visiting Bolshoi Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Bill Hastings and Chet Walker. Ms. Hanley is also an accomplished costumer whose specialty is historical fashion. She includes among her bigger clients The Philly Phanatic. Kim’s academic training includes a BFA in Restoration and History of Applied Arts from the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York.

Kim began interpreting Abigail with AHT in 1997.  Ms. Hanley has appeared in venues that include the White House Visitors Center, National Archives, National Portrait Gallery, Frazier Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Franklin Institute, Liberty Museum, Constitution Center, Independence Visitors Center, Freedoms Foundation, Pennsylvania Historical Society, Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, Delaware Humanities Chautauqua and libraries throughout New Jersey and the greater Philadelphia area.

Mary Pickersgill PORTRAYED BY KIM HANLEY

Mary Young would never have imagined that she would inadvertently become a muse to inspire the poem, which would in turn inspire a nation under duress.  Well acquainted with difficulties by her early thirties, Mary had lost her father, and her husband, John Pickersgill. She was left with one small child to care for, and her widowed mother, Rebecca.  Rebecca was a remarkable woman for her time, despite the restrictions of coverture and poor education for girls, Rebecca learned a trade and ran a flag making business in Philadelphia. During the Revolutionary War she stitched for the Continental Army and the Pennsylvania Navy, and eventually the First United States Regiment.

Fortunately, Rebecca taught her trade to her child. So rather than having to throw herself on the mercy of relatives, or suffer the degradations of the alms house, Mary not only provided a handsome living for her family, but she also helped many others, and lent her hands to create an enduring symbol of strength and patriotism that still exists today.

In the summer of 1813, while the U. S. was again engaged in war with Britain, Mary was approached by Major George Armistead to make two flags, the largest of which measured 30 feet hoist and 42 feet fly.   Six weeks later she was done.

By August of that year the most powerful symbol of our Nation’s endurance, White House, was in ashes. That September, after 2 full days of bombardment, it was Mary’s enormous flag with its 400 plus yards of cloth that, being seen as it flew over Ft McHenry, that gave hope to Francis Scott Key, and inspired the poem “The Defense of Fort Henry” which is now known as the National Anthem: “The Star Spangled Banner”.

Stitching flags may have brought her to the public eye, but Mary devoted her life to giving hope to others.  Having experienced hardship, Mary became president of the Impartial Humane Society where she provided aid to Men, Women Children and Families through various measures, including the establishment of homes for the elderly.

Edgar Allan Poe PORTRAYED BY BOB GLEASON

January 2009 – January 2010 is the bicentennial of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth. Writing most of his greatest works while living in Philadelphia, Poe flourished here for more than 6 years. Exposing the inner machinations of the human mind and heart, Bob Gleason’s Edgar Allan Poe provides vivid images, terrifying tales, and heart-thumping excitement. But Gleason’s portrayal doesn’t stop there. He reveals the literary editor and critic determined to mine his mind and profit from his published works. We learn that Poe is considered the inventor of the detective story, providing the reason for the award being dubbed the Edgar. And we discover the all-too-human Poe, the passionate poet, the intense husband, the haunted soul.

Not just for Halloween any more! A literary talent for all seasons.

“Mr Gleason was just wonderful and our patrons really enjoyed his portrayal of Edgar Allan Poe!” – C.S. Township Library of Lower Southampton, Feasterville, PA

Alice Roosevelt PORTRAYED BY KIM HANLEY

The oldest child of Theodore Roosevelt, Alice grew up at an exciting time in America’s history: the United States was emerging as a global power. The striking beauty was in a key position to observe and comment because she knew all the important players and was present at key events. A rule-breaker, a fashion icon, an independent woman, Alice was only intermittently politically active, but when she did feel strongly, she made her opinions well known. She was vehemently against the proposed League of Nations following World War I because the League was President Wilson’s idea and because it would have limited America’s power. And even though she married Republican Nicholas Longworth, Alice temporarily became a Democrat while Presidents Kennedy and Johnson were in office and was outspoken on their behalf. After her husband’s death, Alice wrote magazine articles, but her writing didn’t reflect her keen wit and powers of observation for which she was famous when in the company of the movers and shakers of her time.

Kim Hanley as Alice Roosevelt invites you to experience what life was like when America was coming into its own on the world stage. Sharing her picture album with her audience, we glimpse a life lived in the United States and abroad, a life filled with adventures and adventurers, triumphs and tragedies.  The ideal commentator of defining moments, Kim’s Alice takes us on a journey that includes the famous and the infamous, including Alice herself–a self-proclaimed “hedonist.” Kim’s Alice was celebrated for her beauty, grudgingly respected for her willfulness and known for her wit. Ms. Hanley gives the woman nicknamed “Princess Alice” her due and gives her audience an insider’s view.

Theodore Roosevelt PORTRAYED BY PEYTON DIXON

Theodore Roosevelt was the second of four children born to a wealthy New York Family.  Sickly in his youth, he dedicated himself to a physical regimen and became an avid outdoorsman and naturalist, who later promoted the conservation movement. He attended Harvard University, where he studied biology and boxed.  Only one year out of college, he was elected to the New York State Assembly. His accomplishments were plentiful and diverse and range widely and seemingly incongruently from being a war hero to being a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

When President McKinley was assassinated in 1901, Roosevelt (then Vice President) stepped in to the Presidency. In his tenure, he promoted progressivism and strong government control of business. In 1904, he won the largest percentage of the popular vote since the uncontested election of 1820, making him the first Vice President to be elected to the position after initially taking on the role due to the death of a current President.  Roosevelt described his domestic political agenda as a "Square Deal" to emphasize his commitment to ensure that the average citizen would get a “fair share” under his leadership. The slogan "Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far” lives on well beyond the life of this remarkable man.

Lucy Say Portrayed by Virginia K. Loomis

Lucy Way Say was a groundbreaker, the first woman elected to join the elite membership of The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and an artist and scientist specializing in the little known fields of Conchology (the study of shells) and Malacology (the study of mollusks & shelled organisms). Born and raised a Quaker she trained as an artist studying at the Fretageot School, in hopes of obtaining employment as a teacher. She continued her studies as a pupil of the well known Naturalist and Painter John James Audubon and soon became a talented colorist.

On her way to join the utopian society of New Harmony, IN. she met and married Thomas Say, who was often referred to as The Father of Conchology. Lucy and Thomas worked together until Thomas’ death at age 47 from typhoid fever in 1834. Lucy illustrated the specimens in Thomas’s book American Conchology. Heart broken, Lucy lived out her life helping to educate others.

Interpreter Virginia Loomis delighted in the discoveries she made while studying the free thinking, independent Lucy Say. A talented watercolorist herself, Loomis brings to life Say's chief passions: her husband and their work. Loomis believes that the world would be a better place if little known, yet extremely important and powerful stories like Lucy Way Say's are brought to life.

Richard sears Portrayed by Bob Gleason

"Bob was terrific!  It is such a treasure to have him.  He creatively put together three characters to portray the history of Sears and it was great.  He research is accurate and he is a true professional . Please be sure to let him know how much we appreciated all his good work and hope to work with again on this and other programs." P.W. Smithsonian Associates, 6/2011

For more information, contact American Historical Theatre: 215-625-0986

Harriet Beecher Stowe PORTRAYED BY KIM HANLEY

(June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896)   In 1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe published her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly. This empathetic depiction of life for African Americans under slavery reached millions in the United States and the United Kingdom.  The emotionally charged stories of Uncle Tom, Eliza, and Little Eva helped move the conscience of the country to the great and imperative cause of Abolitionism.  It energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the pro-slavery South.  It is alleged that when she met Abraham Lincoln, he told her “So you are the little woman that wrote the book that started this great war.”

Constrained by 19th century societal conventions Harriet could not become a minister like her father, brothers and husband, so she chose instead to use the outlets available to a lady, among those were teaching and writing.  During the early years of her marriage, Harriet drew income as an educator and from writing from magazine articles. Later, after witnessing the horrors of Slavery and the work of Abolitionists, she began Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a story to be published in serial form.  The stories catapulted her to international fame, and in the years following, Harriet went on to publish over 20 novels as well as travel memoirs, home-life guides, letters and essays, becoming one of the most widely published authors in American History.

Kim Hanley, an actor, singer, costumer and dancer, trained and danced from an early age with the School of American Ballet and the Eglevsky Ballet in New York, as well as with the visiting Bolshoi Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Bill Hastings and Chet Walker. Ms. Hanley is also an accomplished costumer whose specialty is historical fashion. She includes among her bigger clients The Philly Phanatic. Kim’s academic training includes a BFA in Restoration and History of Applied Arts from the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York.

Kim began interpreting Abigail with AHT in 1997.  Ms. Hanley has appeared in venues that include the White House Visitors Center, National Archives, National Portrait Gallery, Frazier Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Franklin Institute, Liberty Museum, Constitution Center, Independence Visitors Center, Freedoms Foundation, Pennsylvania Historical Society, Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, Delaware Humanities Chautauqua and libraries throughout New Jersey and the greater Philadelphia area.

Harriet Tubman PORTRAYED BY CATHY SIMPSON

Harriet Tubman couldn’t read or write, suffered from epilepsy after being hit in the head with a two-pound weight intended to deter a runaway slave, was repeatedly threatened, beaten and starved, and emerged from these trials an ardent abolitionist, humanitarian and Union spy during the Civil War. Not content to find freedom herself, Ms. Tubman rescued others from their bondage through the Underground Railroad. After the Civil War, she was active in the struggle for women’s suffrage.

Cathy Simpson’s Harriet Tubman shows us a woman unstopped by almost insurmountable obstacles. Audience members learn how to “walk soft” in the woods as they journey to freedom and sing “Go down, Moses,” a doubly potent message since one of Ms. Tubman’s nicknames was “Moses.” Simpson captures the intensity of Tubman’s faith and the depth of her passion for freedom – for herself and for all who were oppressed. Cathy shares Harriet’s commitment and makes accessible the enormity of Harriet Tubman’s contribution.

Mark Twain PORTRAYED BY BOB GLEASON

Author and humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens, or as he is better known, Mark Twain used  his home town of Hannibal, Missouri as the backdrop for his two most notable works: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which has often been referred to as the Great American Novel). He tried a number of other career options before discovering his true vocation. He was an apprentice printer, a typesetter, a riverboat pilot, a gold miner, inventor, and finally a journalist. He was a Jack of all trades, who could never master his finances, though he always made sure his debts were eventually paid, but when it came to writing he certainly excelled. He became well known for his works, was acclaimed by his peers, and counted presidents and industrialist and other notables amongst his friends.

Bob Gleason was trained in Theater by performing in 60+ productions at West Chester University. A member of the Army’s Special Services Chorus, he shared his four-octave vocal talents as a goodwill ambassador touring the US and Germany.

Since 1991, Bob Gleason has been AHT’s “go to guy” – If you need it, Bob can do it! Over the years, Mr. Gleason has been featured at the White House Visitor’s Center, Ford’s Theatre, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, Constitution Hall, the National Constitution Center, Independence Hall, Mask & Wig, Elder Hostels, Bartram’s Garden, Betsy Ross’ House, the General Warren Inn, and the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge. Bob has been especially popular at schools, museums, historic sites and libraries throughout the United States. In-depth historical research and audience interactivity have become hallmarks of Mr. Gleason’s historical portrayals. He’s now performing for the children of children he previously educated and entertained.

madame CJ Walker Portrayed by Daisy Century

Born with the name Sarah Breedlove, Madame C.J. Walker was an entrepreneur, and an early civil rights advocate who sought equality for African Americans. As America’s first female self-made millionaire, she was a philanthropist who was an enthusiastic financial supporter of Black Colleges and Universities.

Walker amassed her fortune through dedication, hard work, and innovation. She began with a small “Special Correspondence Course” business, founded on her System of Beauty Culture. This self described “hair-growing” business, was borne out her desire to remedy her own hair loss. On September 19th, 1911 the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company of Indiana, Inc. wherein Madame Walker was the President and sole shareholder, was incorporated. As she focused on growing hair, her business also grew rapidly.

Her dedication extended not only to her wok but to her community as well. Walker began teaching other African American women how they too could likewise succeed in business and was sought after to lecture on social, political, and economic topics. Walker was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and was instrumental in their efforts to make lynching a federal crime. Walker is was recognized by the National Association Of Colored Women (NACW) for making the largest contribution to save the home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. She donated throughout her career to the NAACP, the YMCA, and to black schools, organizations, individuals, orphanages, as well as retirement homes.

Dr. Daisy Century recalls the thrill of receiving a standing ovation for her 3rd grade recitation of The Creation and credits this as the beginning of her desire to perform. Trained as a teacher, Dr. Century earned a BA in Biology at Claflin College, a Master’s in Science Education from South Carolina University and a PhD from Temple University, also in Science Education. This naturally talented teacher and actor couples scientific methods with creative imagination in order to discover how the historical characters she interprets would respond to a given situation. An inspiring educator whose students have returned year after year to thank Dr. Century for the difference she has made in their lives, Daisy has continued to inspire through her thoroughly-researched, dramatically intense portrayals. Dr. Century is a published author, writing under the name Emily Nelson, and is an accomplished singer.

John Wanamaker Portrayed by Bob Gleason

"Meet me at the Eagle,” was a frequent suggestion for Philadelphians over the years. The statue was impressive and so was the store named for its founder, John Wanamaker.  Bob Gleason’s Wanamaker gives us the story of a businessman who provided variety and fun for his customers and who was rewarded for his efforts. Here was a man who was civic-minded and charitable. Wanamaker fostered a progressive relationship with his employees, making it possible for them to go to school, building a vacation amusement place for employees to use on the weekends, housing the biggest organ in the world (built for the St. Louis Centennial Exposition) and arranging for the organ to be played in his store. John Wanamaker was a man who made a lot of money and tried to do good things with it.

Walt Whitman Portrayed by David S. Taylor

Walt Whitman changed the voice of poetry. He sought to create “a new gospel of beauty”: an American voice. He escaped the Classic Structures demanded of verse, and gave us the free form voice that has become standard today.

Within Walt Whitman’s story, one may find a parallel to the story of America. He was born and raised on Long Island, NY, when Brooklyn was but a village. As Whitman grew, so too did Brooklyn, becoming one of the largest cities in America during his lifetime. Throughout America many areas experienced a rapid period of growth and transformation from rural to urban and industrial. The nation was undergoing a process of re-definition and understanding and Whitman was a man of the times. He was a newspaper man and poet fully engaged in learning about and defining himself.

His work influenced the beat movement and its leaders such as Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg, anti-war poets and even Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Whitman served as a volunteer in military hospitals during the civil war and mourned with the nation at the assassination of President Lincoln with the well-known “Captain, oh my Captain.”

The last chapter of his life took place in the hard working town of Camden, NJ and his refuge in nature at the Stafford Farm and Timber Creek as the “Good Grey Poet”.

David S. Taylor grew up in Southern New Jersey. He received a B.A. in Speech and Theatre from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) and he holds a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Maine.

Taylor has enjoyed decades of performance experience: theatre in Maine (early participant with Acadia Repertory Theatre and Penobscot Theatre Company), and local and regional theatre in New York (including New Shakespeare Festival), California and New Jersey. He has extensive film and television credits to his name, with Principal performances such as “Monty Hoover” (the cab driver) in GIRL INTERUPTED and numerous parts on daytime television drama (including ALL MY CHILDREN, GUIDING LIGHT, ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ANOTHER WORLD, AS THE WORLD TURNS). He is a long standing member of SAG/AFTRA.

Taylor has been a first person interpreter for over 10 years. In Philadelphia and regularly plays Independence Hall as Benjamin Franklin. He has considerable experience portraying a number of other characters, primarily throughout Pa and NJ, including Captain Gideon Olmstead, Walt Whitman, George Washington and others.