Theater: Humming The Battles

The Civil War has little history but lots of tunes

A nation divided. Two irreconcilable causes. Fanatical partisans on both sides. The Civil War? No, it's the battle over Frank Wildhorn. The prolific composer who gave us Jekyll & Hyde and The Scarlet Pimpernel is routinely dismissed as an easy-listening schlockmeister by the discerning critics. Audiences, however, keep flocking to his shows.

With The Civil War, his latest Broadway offering, Wildhorn makes a bold effort to bind up the nation's wounds. This time, he has tackled a suitably lofty subject, aimed at satisfying snobs and middlebrows alike. The good news is that The Civil War avoids the pulpy melodramatics that...

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