Wednesday, July 29, 2015

With Lee in Virginia ~ Audio Theater ~ A Crew Review

Heirloom Audio Productions continues to astound and astonish listeners with their latest Audio Treater production: With Lee in Virginia. We have been enthralled by the quality of their earlier productions and were excited to be a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew’s team for this 2 CD set and downloadable PDF Study Guide.

With Lee in Virginia, audio drama, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Kirk Cameron, Sean Astin

Arlene (15) has spent the past several summers with a group that reenacts Indiana’s involvement in the Civil War, so this story runs right alongside her other studies of the War Between the States. With Lee in Virginia is an adaptation of the original story written by G.A. Henty  that was first published in 1890. The story follows the adventures of Vincent Wingfield and his slave Dan throughout the Civil War. Since the story is told from the perspective of a Southerner from Virginia, many Yankee listeners may be surprised to learn they didn’t learn everything about the war from their Elementary or High School textbooks.

The story of With Lee in Virginia would be enough to hold your attention by itself, yet it is made into an almost magical listening experience through the use of superb voice actors and quality sound effects. When you close your eyes and listen, your brain imagines out the scenes and you are transported to the plantation, the slave auction, and the battlefields. If you’re a family that listens to audio dramas in the car, this is one where Mom and Dad are going to disagree over who has to drive because everyone will want to give it their full attention! Fear not! At just over two and a half hours you can listen as many times as you want. The story is just as interesting the second, third or even fourth time!

Emily, Arlene, and I have listened to the story several times during the past few weeks. Once Kurt was in my car with us, and he was intrigued by the story after just a few minutes. This third installment from Heirloom Audio Productions once again features Brian Blessed as G.A. Henry, along with outstanding performances from Sean Astin as Jeb Stuart, Kirk Cameron as General Stonewall Jackson, and features Jim Weiss as General Johnston.

Our family has loved each of the Audio Theater productions from Heirloom Audio, and With Lee in Virginia just might even outrank Under Drake’s Flag and In Freedom’s Cause as our favorite. It is common for the girls to grab one of these audio dramas on our way out the door when they know we’ll be in the car for an hour or more. They are a treat the entire family will enjoy!

There is no minimum age requirement to listen to CD’s from Heirloom Audio Productions although many have recommended them for ages six and up. However, since With Lee in Virginia focuses so intently on the call to duty and the battles of the Civil War, I recommend  parents listen through the first time without their children present to ascertain if their listeners are mature enough to listen to and discuss the topics of this war: state’s rights, slavery, battles, prison camps and the like. I would personally recommend this for listeners aged 10 and up, or those who have attained the maturity of a fourth grader. 

Heirloom Audio Productions has put together an astounding 52 page Study Guide which is available as a downloadable PDF. This study guide feature numerous sections that can help parents walk through the story, and those difficult topics, with their children. The entire story is divided into sections in the guide and each section has Listening Well and Thinking Further questions. Most of the sections also have Defining Words listed to help your family expand the necessary vocabulary to best appreciate the story. Several words that Arlene already knew from her study of the war, but your students may not yet know include: ruckus, plantation, overseer, secede, seize, pitchfork, abolitionist, calvary, regiment, maneuvers, sternum, convalescence, parole, marauding, and picket line.

With Lee in Virginia, audio drama, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Kirk Cameron, Sean Astin

The beginning of the Study Guide includes biographical information of G.A. Henry, General Robert E. Lee, and General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. There are both original and reproduction photos sprinkled throughout the guide, which may lend your family to decide to read it in color on your computer or laptop and answer the questions orally. The PDF is a high quality resolution that translates well to print in either color or black and white if you would rather have your students write down their answers. I was amused to see a recipe for Johnny Cakes, and I’m pretty sure the only reason Arlene hasn’t made any yet is our current lack of cornmeal in the kitchen cupboards!

Near the end of the Study Guide you will find other recommended reading about Robert E Lee. At the end of the guide is a two-part Bible Study on Duty and Love Your Enemy. It also includes a Biblical look at slavery.  

So often the short answer for the Civil War is “it was fought over slavery.” While that was one of the major factors in the Southern state’s secession from the Union, it was also a war fought over State’s Rights versus the Federal Government’s power, and the economic principles of the time. It seems like this is a fitting time to discuss with your children (of all ages) how the U.S. Constitution grants each state the right to self-government. How this line wavers back and forth between state power and centralized power is often in the news these days.

With Lee in Virginia, audio drama, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Kirk Cameron, Sean Astin

Within the story presented in the 2 CD set, two quotes from Lee and Jackson keep being repeated - with good reason. They are key, Biblically sound, principles to instill in your own heart, and the hearts of your children. Stonewall Jackson was famous for saying “Duty is ours; consequences are God’s.” General Robert E. Lee, in a letter to his son wrote “ Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.” Our responsibility as Christians is to do our duty, in line with God’s Word, and to trust Him for the outcome.

I cannot praise this installment of Audio Theater from Heirloom Audio Productions highly enough! You can order your own copy, along with several bonus features for only $29.97 plus S/H. If your family and friends love audio dramas as much as you do, they have a special family four pack that includes four copies of With Lee in Virginia, plus a whopping 6 bonuses for only $99.97 plus S/H. 

Click on over and get your copy today, you’ll be glad you did!

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With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

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