Charles Lindbergh’s fame soared when he became the first person to make a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. But fame has a dark side and Lindbergh’s life after that groundbreaking flight is littered with controversy and tragedy as retold in Theatre 98’s presentation of “Flight, The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh.”
The drama was written in 2005 by Garth Wingfield and was performed off Broadway in New York City. The first act focuses on the 14 years after that historical flight, including his marriage and the kidnapping and murder of his son. In act two, audiences are introduced to a side of Lindbergh they may have never known, which includes his involvement in efforts to keep the U.S. out of World War II. His admiration for the Germans led to controversy and the production often focuses on a gaggle of reporters, played by one man, Kelly Teague, who shows how quickly the media’s attention can turn from fawning to ferocious.
Director Heather Delker said the show, which is not as well-known as others the theatre has performed, fascinated theatre members when they set out to choose this year’s slate of performances.
“Even those of us who thought we were familiar with Charles Lindbergh didn’t necessarily remember all these things that had happened to him and his relationship with fame,” she said.
Delker added that she also likes that the play, set in pre-World War II days, is relevant to events happening in today’s world.
“It does speak to things now simply because everybody talks about journalism and asks, ‘How do you know what’s factual and what’s not?’ We think of that as something that is a recent issue but it was going on back then,” she said.
For example, Delker said, the press reported that Lindbergh had died after landing his plane and failing to tell anyone where he was.
“There was a lot of sensationalist reporting around him and a lot of this story is how that press affected his life,” he said.
Throughout the production many actors play several parts, including Jeff Lovingood who performs both the roles of the man who helped the Lindberghs negotiate with the kidnappers and the Germany military official who presented Lindbergh with a controversial award. Delker said it is entertaining to watch the cast stretch into those very different personalities.
The cast is rounded out by Richard Foster, Lisa Rae Melgarejo, Evelyn Riales, Cyan Stratton, J.P. Sylvester and Jennifer Walker.