"The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier" Review- a timely musical raising issues about identity

Permoveo Productions in conjunction with Pride Films and Plays is currently presenting the world premiere of “The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier” through October 15th at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. This politically timely and loosely fact based musical play was written by Jay Paul Deratany, with original music composed by Keaton Wooden and Joe Stevens and directed by Keaton Wooden. Other credits include: music direction by Jon Schneidman; sound design by Joseph Palermo; lighting design by musa bouderbaden; costume design by Uriel Gómez; scenic design by Jeremy Hollis; choreography by Derek Van Barham; projections design by G. Max Maxin IV.

Billy Rude, Cameron J. Armstrong, Dani Shay and Albert Quinn IV

 This was a tight, well-orchestrated, well-produced and engaging show, if largely a flight of fancy, with a strong appeal to social conscience. Musicals aren’t expected to present a linear story, and they traditionally serve as a vehicle for projecting value-laden observations and idealized heroes and villains, and this play is no exception.This is a recreation of an imagined life about which little is known.

 Albert D. J. Cashier was born in Ireland in 1843 as Jennie Irene Hodgers, and after emigrating to the U.S.,  chose to assume a male identity, enlisting and serving in an Illinois regiment of the Union Army during the War Between the States. Hodgers/Cashier lived for half a century as a man, eventually being discovered by health care attendants, and ultimately forced to wear female clothing until death. It has been written that their consistent and long-term commitment to the male identity has prompted some contemporary scholars to suggest that Cashier was a trans man. While there are virtually no extant facts about this persons early years, personal life or motivations, it is well documented that Hodgers as Cashier served with distinction and bravery in numerous campaigns.


Katherine Condit and Delia Kropp

With the entire back wall as a backdrop displaying bleak, grainy, black and white images of rural Illinois/civil war scenery and battlefields coupled with a bare minimum of props, (a rifle, wheelchair, immediately recognizable civil war costumes) the gifted actors sang, danced, mock-fought and declaimed the story of a gallant life. The clever stagecraft included double scenes wherein the action took place using more than one set of actors, several of whom played more than one role. Numerous scenes developed with Albert Cashier the younger in the foreground and Albert Cashier the elder in the background; the device was less effective the more it was repeated.

Katherine Condit and Dani Shay


Starring Dani Shay, Katherine Condit, Delia Kropp, Billy Rude, Cameron Armstrong, Chuck Quinn IV, Gabriel Fries, Jordan Dell Harris, Jonathan Stombres, Roy Samra, Josiah Robinson, Laura Ebsworth, Curtis Bannister and Wesley Dean Tucker, the 2 hour + songfest flew by with appeals to the emotions of pride, empathy, indignity, charity. Filled with earnest vocalizing, touches of humor and simple yet charming choreography, this was a pleasing and stirring performance.


Chuck Quinn IV, Cameron J. Armstrong, Billy Rude, Dani Shay, Josiah Robinson and Roy Samra

For information, go to www.albertcashierthemusical.com

For tickets, go to www.stage773.com

All photos by Cole Simon




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