The 2019 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.


Francis Scott Key – Beyond the Star Spangled Banner

Key was a lawyer before the start of the War of 1812.  During the war, the British attacked on Ft. McHenry.  Early the next morning, when the battle had ceased, Key saw the American flag still flying above the Fort, inspiring Key to compose a poem to honor the fallen.  Key’s poem was soon thereafter published.  The verse was later set to the tune of a popular song and is known today as The Star-Spangled Banner, our National Anthem.

Presenter:  Charles Wissinger 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 June 22 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


Frederick & Anna Douglass – The Courage to Love

Frederick Douglass, the most famous black man of the 19th century, was a world traveler and a superb orator.  Anna, his wife, although often overshadowed by Frederick, made his work possible. Without her, his hopes and aspirations would have never become reality. Come hear the story of their fight for freedom. Listen to them as they speak about the challenges and how, through it all, they had the courage to love.

Presenters:  Nathan Richardson is a performance poet and Frederick Douglass historian.  He has performed “The Frederick Douglass Speaking Tour” to countless audiences.  

Valerie Davis is no stranger to Hanover. A local actress, she has performed during the summer series of The Parsons’ Cause Foundation, portraying Martha Ann Fields and Nanny Prosser.

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


Benjamin Franklin – His Own Greatest Invention

(Bonus:  A Reading of the Declaration of Independence)

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.

Presenter:  Tony Gabriele is a career newspaperman with four decades of experience on stage.  His portrayal of Benjamin Franklin was part of past summer series of The Parsons’ Cause Foundation.

Performances on July 6 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


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.”

Performance on July 13 (11:00 a.m.)


Thomas Jefferson – Looking Forward, Looking Back

Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence, the architect of the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, and the founder of the University of Virginia, and the third President of the United States.  In this unique performance, two interpreters, portraying a young Mr. Jefferson and an older Mr. Jefferson, converse about the future and the past.

Presenters:  Bill Barker, the older Mr. Jefferson, has been interpreting 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.

Kurt Smith, who turns 36 this year, is Bill’s protégé at Colonial Williamsburg.  Kurt portrays the younger Mr. Jefferson.

Performances on July 20 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


Victoria Woodhull

Woodhull was a leader of the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S.  In 1872, the Equal Rights Party nominated her and Frederick Douglass for President and Vice-President, respectively.  Woodhull was also an advocate for “free love,” by which she meant the freedom to marry, divorce, and bear children without social restriction or government interference.  Hear how this suffragette took on the government, society, and her own sister suffragettes.

Presenter:  Lee Ann Rose is a veteran actor-interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg.

Performances on July 27 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


Martha Washington – The Later Years

Born Martha Dandridge, the future first lady was married to Daniel Parke Custis, with whom she had four children, before being widowed at the age of 25. Two years later she married George Washington.  In 2018, “Mrs. Washington” visited Hanover and related stories connected to the time prior to her husband’s presidency. In 2019, she will continue with stories related to his time as President and the years that followed.

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

Performances on August 3 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


Teddy Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt overcame a sickly childhood to become an American soldier, statesman, sportsman, conservationist, and writer.  Upon the assassination of William McKinley in 1901, he became, at age 42, the 26th President of the United States.

Presenter:  Bill Rose has, for 29 years, been an historical interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg.  In addition, he has been portraying “Teddy” for several years.

Performances on August 10 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


John Tyler

Tyler was born to a prominent Virginia family in 1790.  He served as a state legislator, Governor, U.S. Representative, and U.S. Senator.  Running on the Whig ticket with William Henry Harrison, he was elected Vice-President in 1840.  Upon Harrison’s death the following year, Tyler became the tenth President.

Presenter:  Dick Cheatham 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 17 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)


George Washington & Patrick Henry

George Washington led the colonial troops to victory in the Revolutionary War and served as the country’s first President.  Patrick Henry, Hanover County’s most famous citizen, was an attorney, planter, orator, and the first elected Governor of Virginia. His cry of “Liberty or Death” became a rallying cry for American troops during the Revolutionary War and earned Henry the moniker of “The Voice of the Revolution.” Here this gentlemen discuss the friendship, ranging from 1765 to 1799, their agreements and disagreements, their mutual respect for one another, and their mutual love of their new country.

Presenters:  Steve Hawkins, portraying Washington, is a retired salesman.  Steve has been portraying numerous characters at St. John’s Church for over 17 years and has portrayed Sheriff Tompkins in The Parsons’ Cause Trial in Hanover.

John Tucker, portraying Henry, is an attorney, a Catholic deacon, and a Hanover County resident. He has portrayed Henry and other characters at St. John’s Church for over 17 years. He has also portrayed Henry at numerous other venues in Virginia.

Performances on August 24 (9:30 and 11:00 a.m.)