The Alamo Becomes A Musical [Opinion]
By Greg Young
How many Americans remember that Texas was once an independent republic? That it’s the only one of the now-United States to be recognized as an independent republic by the United States . . before it became a state?
This is history not to be forgotten – which is the aim of the new musical, Remember, based on the book and lyrics of W. Blake Winchell and featuring the 60-piece San Antonio Symphony Orchestra and a 75-voice chorus.
It tells the unique story of America’s sister republic – the Republic of Texas – and the pivotal battle of the Alamo in the early spring of 1836.
About 180 men under the command of Colonel William Barrett Travis and James Bowie found themselves surrounded by thousands of Mexican soldiers under the command of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna at the old Spanish mission, which still stands today in what is now downtown San Antonio but what was once San Antonio de Bexar – as far as the government of Mexico was concerned – in the early spring of 1836.
Santa Anna and his army had come to crush what they considered to be a rebellion against the authority of the government of Mexico. The handful of “insurrectionists” within the Alamo managed to hold off the Mexicans for more than a week but were eventually overwhelmed by the sheer numbers arrayed against them.
Travis, Bowie – along with frontiersman Davy Crockett and most of the defenders – were ultimately killed during the battle. But a few survivors who had surrendered to the Mexicans were summarily executed on the orders of Santa Anna, an act of barbarism similar in it effects to the slaughter of American colonists by British soldiers in Boston, Massachusetts, in the spring of 1770.
Seven years later, in the summer of 1776, the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain – to the cry of Give me liberty or give me death!
Over a month later, Texas patriots under the command of Sam Houston rallied to the cry, Remember the Alamo! – and crushed the forces of Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836. The battle lasted just 18 minutes.
Santa Anna himself escaped the battle but was captured the next day. He was not executed but held as a prisoner-of-war for three weeks; he was repatriated after signing a peace treaty requiring Mexican troops to leave the region, paving the way for Texas’ independence – which lasted (and was recognized) until Texas was admitted to the union as the 28th state on December 29, 1845.
Remember not only tells the story of the Alamo – it will be performed just walking distance away from the actual Alamo, at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts – to commemorate the 184th anniversary of the battle.
The musical features Ben Jones as Col. Travis and Michael Dailey as Stephen F. Austin – who wasn’t at the Alamo but was as pivotal a figure in the history of the movement for Texas’ independence as the men who gave their lives at the Alamo.
Austin, who had led the first 300 American families into the territory back in the 1820s, was arrested and imprisoned by the Mexicans for alleged insurrectionist activities in 1834, just prior to the battle at the Alamo – and carted off to a prison in Mexico City, where he remained until amnestied in July of 1835.
After the Battle at San Jacinto and the establishment of Texas as an independent republic, Sam Houston appointed Austin the first secretary of state of the Republic of Texas. Austin also served as one of three commissioners to the government of the United States, sent to establish diplomatic relations between the government of the United States and the independent Republic of Texas.
Texas, of course, eventually joined the United States – becoming the largest state in the lower 48 on December 29, 1845.
The story of Texas is unique in American history – and the purpose of Remember is to make sure that people don’t forget it.
Jones has previously performed in productions of Cats, Guys and Dolls and Sweeny Todd. Daily has performed with the San Jose Opera, Theater an der Wein, the Berkeley Symphony and New York Harlem Productions.
Winchell has directed over 30 amateur productions, including Camelot and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
Musical direction will be handled by Brett Strader of the Pacific Coast Repertory; he is the founding artistic director of the Sing for America Foundation.
Remember will mark Strader’s debut with the San Antonio Symphony.
Tickets can be purchased online at the Tobin Center web site.
Just two shows are scheduled, so remember not to forget!
Greg Young is host of the Nationally Syndicated Chosen Generation Radio Show based in Bandera Texas Cowboy Capitol of the World. He served as a Russian Linguist is the USAF, discover more at chosengenerationradio.com.