From the birth of powered flight to feats across the Atlantic, the early pioneers of aviation have become American icons. ‘Take Flight,’ a musical that had its American premiere in Princeton, N.J., this month, tells the story of the Wright brothers, Charles Lindbergh, and Amelia Earhart.
The play, which came to the McCarter Theatre Center this month, weaves the stories of the four ambitious characters together in a blend of fact and fiction. The historical figures’ drive to achieve aviation feats, and the price of ambition, take center stage.
“It seems fitting, in this economic and political moment, to reflect on the power and determination of the Wright brothers, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh, each of whom were faced with overwhelming obstacles, and each of whom surpassed those to leave an indelible mark on the nature of American innovation,” McCarter Producing Director Mara Isaacs writes on the theater website.
From Jimmy Stewart’s portrayal of Lindbergh in The Spirit of St. Louis in 1957 to Hilary Swank’s performance in Amelia last year, the biographies of aviation pioneers have lent themselves over the years to dramatic depictions. Writer John Weidman, composer David Shire, and lyricist Richard Maltby Jr. stitch the biographies together “to create a musical collage of dream chasing,” writes Charles Isherwood in a review for The New York Times.