If you live anywhere near Washington, D.C. and are an avid genealogist or history buff, you must go see Making Up History: Searching for Annie Moore. You've got three more chances -- today, Thursday and Friday, so time's a wasting!
I went to see the play on Saturday and I have to say it was surreal seeing myself as a character. There I was in the front row watching intense, borderline neurotic "Megan" (yeah, that was definitely accurate!) and her quest for Annie Moore, the first immigrant through Ellis Island. And there were the right and wrong Annies, Annie's brother Anthony, Megan's assistant Melinda (sort of a combination of my husband Brian, my virtual assistant Alyssa, and others who are forced to deal with me on a consistent basis), two of Annie's kids, and Weber of Ellis Island.
Here's a hint: if ever you go to see a play that includes you, don't sit in the front row because you'll be a mess. I spent half the time trying to discreetly wipe tears away -- and that's a testimony to the talent of playwright Alia Faith Williams. I have no idea how she managed to intertwine Annie's story along with my search for her and put it on stage, but she did. Her ability to convey abstract concepts such as the swarm intelligence of the virtual network of genealogists who contributed their skills to solve this history mystery is remarkable. In fact, there's so much more I want to share here, but I'll hold back because I don't want to spoil it for those who go. But let's just say I love what she did with the two Annies and how she brought the true Annie's life into focus.
The actors were all great as well. Melora Kordos and April Sigman were perfect as the two Annies -- very much as I've imagined them in my mind's eye. Dee Ann Lehr was a younger, improved version of me, and for that, I'm grateful! Karen Lange as my assistant Melinda was so convincing I wanted to hire her on the spot! Kevin Finkelstein was born to be Anthony and Joseph -- the brother everyone wishes they had. And John-Paul Pizzica added the proper pomp and gravitas as Weber and the Ellis Island emcee.
As to the photo below? That's my husband Brian putting a dot on the map to show where his ancestors came from. Again, I don't want to give it all away, but I'll just mention that there's some clever audience participation that will open your eyes about how distortion creeps into our personal and national histories.
I'm delighted to see Annie's story told this way, and especially so that it should be done by the likes of Alia. It's one thing to have the opportunity to see yourself in a play -- everyone should have that chance. But it's another thing entirely to have it done by someone as capable and caring as Alia Faith Williams. This is Annie and Alia's tale, and you really should go see it.