The 2017 Shows

All performances take place at the Historic Hanover Courthouse, 13182 Hanover Courthouse Road, Hanover, Virginia 23069.  


Each performance runs about 45 minutes.

Performances are free and open to the public.

Donations are, however, gladly accepted.

Tickets will be distributed on the date of the show on a first-come, first-served basis.  The number of tickets distributed will be limited to the legal capacity of the courthouse.

We ask that patrons do not save seats in the courtroom.



The Parsons’ Cause – Prelude to Revolution

On December 1, 1763, a country lawyer from Hanover stepped from obscurity into the forefront of legal and political circles in Virginia. His name was Patrick Henry. The event that shaped his destiny was the trial of The Parsons’ Cause. Henry challenged the two most potent entities of colonial Virginia—the King and the clergy. The case proved to be one of the opening salvos of the revolution, and started Henry on the path of becoming the “Voice of the Revolution.”

Performances on June 24 (11:00 a.m.) and August 26 (11:00 a.m.)
 Benjamin Franklin – His Own Greatest Invention

Benjamin Franklin was a businessman, author, inventor, diplomat, civic improver, Founding Father – and more. He rose from obscurity to become one of the most famous and beloved Americans of his time, the only man whose signature is on all three of our country's founding documents: the Declaration of Independence, the peace treaty ending the Revolutionary War, and the Constitution. More than that, he created in his own life story the model of what America and Americans could be. Enjoy a conversation with Ben as he spins tales of both his private life and the great events in which he helped create the United States of America. 

Bonus:  A Reading of the Declaration of Independence

Presenter:  Tony Gabriele.  Tony is a career newspaperman with four decades of experience on stage.  His portrayal of Benjamin Franklin was part of the 2016 series.

Performances on July 1 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


Nanny Prosser – Death or Liberty, the Life of Gabriel

The wife of Gabriel Prosser recalls her life with him.  Hear the details of the 1800 slave rebellion, how Nanny fought beside Gabriel for freedom, how she witnessed his execution, and how she and Gabriel’s son carried on without him.

Presenter:  Valerie Davis, a gifted actress, storyteller, playwright and producer.  Valerie’s program on Martha Ann Fields was presented as part of the 2016 series and has been presented to many area church and school groups. 

Performances on July 8 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


Major John Andre – Adjutant General to the British Army

John Andre recalls his adventures as the head of the British Secret Intelligence during the American Revolutionary War.  Andre corresponded with, then met, American General Benedict Arnold, and was instrumental in persuading Arnold to serve the British army.  Captured as a spy, Andre was hanged in October 1780.

Presenter:  Charles Wissinger.  Charles is a well-known local actor.  In addition to performing in Liberty or Death at St. John’s Church, Charles has made many appearances during the summer series of The Parsons’ Cause Foundation, portraying Lafayette, Edgar Allan Poe, James Madison, and Benjamin Stringfellow.

Performances on July 15 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson, a native Virginian and the 28th President of the United States, recounts the highs and lows of his career.  Included in his talk are details of his scholarly works, his leadership of Princeton University, his governorship in New Jersey, his Presidency, World War I, and the struggle to establish the League of Nations.

Presenter:  Judd Bankert.  Since 2000, Judd has been portraying President Wilson as part of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Birthplace’s living history program.

Performances on July 22 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


 Thomas Jefferson

The author of the Declaration of Independence, the architect of the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, and the founder of the University of Virginia discusses politics, elections and his time as the third President. 

Presenter:  Bill Barker.  Bill has been interpreting Mr. Jefferson since 1984 and has portrayed him at Colonial Williamsburg since 1993.  Bill has appeared as Mr. Jefferson at the White House and the Palace of Versailles.  He has also portrayed Mr. Jefferson on programs on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, The History Channel and C-SPAN.

Performances on July 29 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


Mary Todd Lincoln

Having married the man of her dreams, a man she knew was destined to become President, Mary Todd Lincoln was deemed a spy by the North and a traitor by the South.  With relatives on both sides of the Civil War, having lost a dear son, and being married to man prone to depression, she was under great emotional stress.  Hear how she strove to love and support her husband even when he withdrew from her and the world.

Presenter:  Pat Jordan.  Pat has been with the American Historical Theatre in Philadelphia since 1992.  She is a noted actress, teacher and playwright.  In addition to Mrs. Lincoln, Pat portrays a number of other historical figures.

Performances on August 5 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


Martha “Patsey” Henry Fontaine

“Patsey” was the oldest child of Patrick Henry and his first wife, Sarah Shelton.  Patsey was born at Pine Slash in Hanover County in 1755.  In 1771, the Henrys moved to Scotchtown.  Later that year, following the birth of her last child, Sarah developed a mental illness.  Patsey oversaw the care of her mother and her five siblings.  Patsey married John Fontaine at Scotchtown in 1773; the couple had seven children.  Hear her story and her thoughts on her famous father.

Presenter:  Debbie Phillips.  Debbie is a well-known local actress and historical guide.  She has previously portrayed Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton, Eliza Poe and Captain Sally Tompkins for previous summer sessions of The Parsons’ Cause Foundation. 

Performances on August 12 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


John Rolfe

John Rolfe set sail for Virginia in 1609.  Despite being shipwrecked in Bermuda, he later made it to the devastated Jamestown colony.  Contrary to the widespread myth that Pocahontas had a romance with Captain John Smith, her real romance was with Rolfe.  Learn of Rolfe’s adventures, his life in the new world, and his entrepreneurial successes.

Presenter:  Dick Cheatham.  Dick is a leadership consultant, educator, professional speaker and historian.  In addition to John Rolfe, Dick portrays many other notable historic figures.  He has appeared on BBC, PBS and The Learning Channel.  His speakers’ bureau, Living History Associates, has had the contract with the National Park Service at Jamestown to tell America’s founding story for over twenty years. 

Performances on August 19 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)