Newberry —“The Greatest Speech of All Time” leads the audience through the words that shaped history, as they were being spoken.
Timothy Mooney captures the irony and hyperbole which so often characterized the oratory.
He untangles the “spaghetti” of centuries-old syntax, and recreates these events, enabling the audience to experience that moment, when everything hangs in the balance.
Relive the history at the Newberry Opera House Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 8 p.m. “The Greatest Speech of All Time” carries us through the best.
We watch Socrates, having been condemned to death by an Athenian jury, giving his famous “Apology,” in anticipation of his death sentence. Frederick Douglas presents a searing Fourth-of-July indictment of slavery, taking his audience through a “fiery stream” of rebuke for the “revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy” that characterized the American slave trade. Mooney portrays Abraham Lincoln with Shakespearean gravitas, recreating the Gettysburg Address that Lincoln suggested that “the world will little note nor long remember,” even as he reinvigorates the Union, galvanizing them to the “great task remaining before us.”
In a comic turn, Teddy Roosevelt, running for President as the leader of the Bull Moose Party, delivers a lengthy address, in spite of the fact that he has just been shot. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural speech (“Fear Itself”), delivered in the midst of the great depression, sounds startlingly contemporary. Mooney performs three of Winston Churchill’s speeches, from the run-up to Germany’s invasion: “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat,” followed by “We shall Fight them on the Beaches” and “This Was their Finest Hour.”
Finally, Mooney re-creates Martin Luther King’s “I have been to the mountaintop” speech. Speaking to the Memphis Sanitation Strikers the day before he is shot, Dr. King takes his audience on an imaginary journey over time, eerily anticipating his own early death, while predicting that “we as a people, will get to the promised land.”
“The Greatest Speech of All Time” is a searing, powerful dance of rhetoric and inspiration, leaping across the chasm of history. Mooney explains his thoughts on the performance: “I love being able to bring moments of historical consequence, where great deeds hang in the balance, to real life.” “The show moved me to tears,” noted one audience member. Others called it “incredible,” “amazing,” “fantastic,” and “inspiring.” The Orlando Sentinel called it “strong… shrewd… smart” and “powerful.”
Tickets are available at the Newberry Opera House box office. Call 276-6264 for reservations or visit www.newberryoperahouse.com