Mother Jones musical will be presented May Day weekend

“Mother Jones in Heaven,” the highly regarded musical drama about the life of the great Labor leader Mother Jones, written by Sy Kahn, will be featured at two May Day weekend events, May 4 and 5, one at a St. Louis church and one at a winery in nearby Williamson, IL.

Acclaimed actress Vivian Nesbit will portray Mother Jones as she arrives in heaven and discovers it is actually her favorite Irish pub. She proceeds to look back over her life and sift through her eventful career, balancing the scales.

A description of the 75-minute play states: “This one-woman, one-act performance has one foot in the folk tradition of storytelling and acoustic guitars and the other in the true American art of musical theater. Moments of profound insight are woven with hilarious tales from in her prime.

Alice Jankell is the director.

Admission to either performance is $10 at the door. The first performance will be at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 4 at Lafayette Park United Methodist Church, at 2300 Lafayette in St. Louis.

The second will be at 2:30 p.m. on that Sunday, May 5, at the Shale Lake Winery, 1499 Washington Ave. in Williamson, just south of Staunton in far north Madison County – take the Mile 37 exit from I-55.

The events are being presented by the Mother Jones Museum at Mt. Olive group, which continues to develop the Mother Jones Museum in that town’s village hall. It is just off I-55 in Macoupin County.

The Sunday performance will follow the annual May Day celebration at Union Miners Cemetery in Mt. Olive, where Mother Jones is buried beneath her monument.

The museum will be open from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., and the cemetery program will be from noon to 1:15 p.m. and will feature speakers including Tim Drea and Amy Rueff from the Illinois AFL-CIO and a re-created procession of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Progressive Mine Workers, with one of the original banners.

The museum will be open again from 1:30 to 2:30 before the play is presented at the winery.

“It’s May Day, and it’s Mother Jones,” said Joann Condellone, one of the event organizers. “The play celebrates it and the museum celebrates it. What could be better?”


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