Adults/Young Adults



Quaker Girl Takes Washington's Center  Stage: The Rise of Dolley Madison

 A girl in a gray day dress becomes a First Lady, fashion icon and force for women's freedom as well as national unity 

Dolley Madison may be known for saving the George Washington portrait during the burning  of Washington, but there is far more to her story than that! Guests sigh, gasp and chuckle, as they  dive into the twists and turns of life that brought Dolley from a quiet Quaker childhood into Washington (City')s  elite social and political whirl.  Audiences discover the ways she used her charm and status to  become a force for bringing women out of their homes and into the news and politics of the  day, facilitate political connections; transform the White House into an exquisite national home and unite a divided citizenry. The performance reveals the fashionable, gracious and politically astute Dolley few of us know.


  • Dolley's humble beginnings as a Quaker child
  • Move to Philadelphia during time of the Constitutional Convention
  • First marriage and losses in the Fever of 1793
  • Dolley and James' first meeting and courtship
  • Life in the new capital, Washington City, as wife of the Secretary of State and acting national hostess for President Jefferson.
  • "Presidentress" (First Lady) Dolley Madison: fashion icon and the America's gracious hostess
  • Dolley Madison: a quiet champion for women's rights
  • Heroism during the burning of Washington and role in restoring the city
  • Dolley's regrets as a mother to wild-child Payne
  • Dolley's influence on the growth of the country


 Myths & Miracles of Victorian Medicine

Advancements & misconceptions that earmark turn-of-the-century healthcare

Men and women chuckle, sigh, and cringe, as they learn about discoveries and misconceptions of late-Victorian medicine. Sometimes shocked by the misinformation, other times surprised by the advanced thinking, audiences learn about health and well-being, turn-of-the-century style!, From opium-based Laudaun, to the x-ray, aspirin and amalgam, guests dive into the era's discoveries, techniques and treatments, some of which formed the roots of modern medicine. Topics include cures, "cures"  and the rash of discoveries that moved medical care forward, as the 19th century gave way to the 20th!  

Sampling of topics:

  • The Miasma theory (disease is caused by noxious odors)
  • Hygiene
  • Psychosomatic illnesses; shrewd doctors reaping in the profits?
  • Homemade remedies from the cupboard such as calves-feet soup
  • Laudanum and other "miracle cures"
  • Pregnancy protocols
  • Key contributors such as Dr. Louis Pasteur, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell  
  • Discoveries of causes and treatments of common lethal diseases
  • Dentistry: amalgam and electric drills!


The Etiquette Expert of 1890
Advice and admonitions from a proper Victorian lady

 Ladies (and gents) set out on a promenade through the days of corsets, calling cards and decorum, as the oh-so-proper Mrs. Russell Parsons escorts them through the life of a proper Victorian lady and gent! This performance highlights the wisdom, misconceptions and, by today's standards, downright ridiculous customs  of the Age of Gentility. Some guests reminisce about their mothers and grandmothers;  others simply delight in the poignant, amusing, always historically accurate story, as Mrs. Parson unwraps her life in the Age of Gentility.



Sampling of  Topics:

  • Tea etiquette
  • Queen Victor
  • Fashion and hygiene
  • Fan language
  • Calling-card protocols
  • Courtship
  • The Code of Etiquette
  • Household regimen of the middle-class wife and mother

45-minute performance

The Ideal accompaniment to afternoon tea! Suggest guests come in "tea attire" (hats and gloves, perhaps!)


Farm Girl on the Front Lines: Deborah Sampson's Secret

How this humble heroine hoodwinked the Continental Army!Audiences discover" the story behind the story" of the only woman known to have disguised herself  as a man and served in the Continental Army without detection. Raised as an indentured servant in Middleborough, mistress-of-disguise Deborah Sampson, (aka Samson)  dreamed of serving in the Continental Army; She eventually developed a plan that made this dream a reality.

Photo:  Retired Colonel Julie Hall, winner of the Massachusetts 2014 Deborah Sampson Award joins Deborah 

Without connections, social status,or  material means, this unsung heroine achieved  seemingly unattainable goals.

Topics include 

  • Childhood as an indentured servant

  • Restrictions for women/girls in Colonial America

  • Deborah's first plan, failure, revised plan, and success

  • Enlistment and role in the army

  • How Deborah managed to keep her gender a secret living among men

  • Close calls and her famous injury

  • Life as a general's personal assistant

  • Her secret's out!

  • Marriage and life as a farmer's wife in Sharon, MA

  • A woman alone on the speaking circuit!

  • Deborah's legacy a a champion for women's rights and freedoms

Deborah's story dispels many of the myths that circulate about her and places her in relief against a backdrop of traditional Colonial culture. Peppered with props and surprises, this performance reveals the story behind this famous, principled deception and the character of the quiet rebel who pulled it off. 


The War of 1812: Dolley Tells All!

 The men thought she was embroidering–but Mrs. Madison was listening- capturing every word she heard- as her President husband and his advisers discussed the War-related strategies, consequences and predictions! Audiences marvel at  the miscalculations, missteps and heroics related to this war such as generals without military experience, botched battles and Washington City in flames!. But the fair and patriotic Mrs. Madison also addresses Commodore Oliver Perry's high-seas heroism, the battle that spawned our National Anthem and the way a wooden battleship came to be nicknamed Old Ironsides! Being adverse to historical fiction, Mrs. Madison leads her audiences on a journey packed with historically accurate drama, intrigue, and true, but unbelievable, tales that characterize the 2nd time our tiny country stood up to stare down the British empire.

Audiences delve into topics that include the following:

  • Residual issues from the Revolutionary War that led to the War of 1812
  • Presidents Jefferson and Madison: their attempts to avoid war
  • The U.S. military: out-manned, outgunned and inexperienced
  • Bungled military campaigns and heroic victories
  • Tecumseh, the warrior, and the reasons he and 2,000 American Indians sided with the Enemy!
  • The burning  of the nations; capital
  • The story behind our National Anthem and Uncle Sam
  • Ways Dolley used her gifts and status to rally and encourage the country
  • The rocky road to a peace treaty with two victors
  • Lessons our Federal Government learned that shaped future policies and practices











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