January 30, 2013

The Driehaus Museum Presents Second-Annual Performance of 'Bertha, the Sewing Machine Girl'

Cheer on the heroine and boo the evildoers once again during the second-annual staged reading of this Gilded Age-era melodrama on February 20 and 21 at the Driehaus Museum.

Bertha, the Sewing Machine Girl, originally a popular serial published in New-York Weekly in 1871, was adapted for the stage by the playwright Theodore Kremer in 1906. The story centers on the beautiful heroine Bertha, who strives to earn enough money as a seamstress in a Manhattan sweatshop to cure her sister’s blindness and reclaim her murdered father’s estate. A group of villains enter the picture to turn the odds against her, and the adventurous plot takes off from there.

Produced and directed by Bernard Sahlins, co-founder of the sketch comedy troupe The Second City, the staged reading features some of the city’s finest acting talent and is accompanied by rollicking piano music from the period.

“These popular melodramas of the 19th century are rarely performed today,” Sahlins says. “Performances like Bertha, the Sewing Machine Girl would have featured a cast of dozens and taken all evening to act out. This staged reading, however, has been updated and adapted to capture the heart of the story with eight actors and a running time of under two hours. Plus, having it set domestic, intimate context of the Driehaus Museum, making for the perfect salon theater experience.”

Bertha, the Sewing Machine Girl will have two performances in the Driehaus Museum Ballroom, on Wednesday, February 20 and Thursday, February 21. Both performances commence at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. for guests who would like to explore the Museum and its collections prior to the start of the performance.

Tickets are $25 for Museum members, $35 for the general public, and $12 for youth (8–12 years). This program is suitable for ages eight and older. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit DriehausMuseum.org/Programs or call 312 482 8933, ext. 21 during Museum hours.

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