A funny thing happened to June Bingham (in photo, left) on her way from majoring in playwriting at Barnard in 1940 to having her musical, ASYLUM: THE STRANGE CASE OF MARY LINCOLN, produced off-Broadway in 2006. What appeared as a decades-long detour turned out in retrospect to have been valuable preparation for understanding the motivation of her famous protagonist.
What happened to June was to be thrust into diplomatic and political wifehood when her late husband, Jonathan Bingham, served as one of the U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations and later as a Member of Congress for 18 years. She was also thrust into motherhood of four children—and, like Mary Lincoln, having to witness the tragedy of death among their number. From them June now has ten grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren with whom she reunes annually.
During the years when June was not writing for the theatre she wrote four books and numerous articles for national magazines. She also wrote a monthly column for a national syndicate and, later, one for a local Bronx, N.Y. weekly. After Jonathan resigned from Congress in 1983 and they returned full time to New York, her first play, TRIANGLES, was produced off-Broadway in 1986. It later morphed into a musical, YOUNG ROOSEVELTS, which was seen in Dallax, TX; Washington, D.C.; and New York. Another musical of hers, SQUANTO AND LOVE, with music and lyrics by her daughter-in-law, Susan Bingham, was produced in Plymouth, MA in 1992, and at the Hostos Theatre in the Bronx.
Life being stranger than fiction (or drama), at the memorial service for Jonathan in 1986 June had met an erstwhile Yale classmate of his who, like her, was married for 46 years before being widowed. By now they have been married for 20 years and he enthusiastically attends all her shows. Mary Lincoln was an important public figure which June is not, but June has been luckier. For one thing, during her widowhood, her son, the lawyer, did not rig a trial which committed her to a mental hospital. Instead he acted as her attorney in the pleasant negotiations she and her composer-lyricist Carmel Owen (in photo, right) have had with Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization.
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2009 marks a very special historical milestonethe bicentennial of Abraham Lincolns birthand R&H Theatricals has acquired a fascinating musical to commemorate this event...Read More