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Jeff Greenawalt- Actor, Musician, Living Historian


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I am truly grateful that I have been blessed with the ability to perform because it allows me to share my love for history, music, and acting with others through living historian presentations. Since I was a child, the stories of our ancestors and the times in which they lived always fired my imagination. I recall wanting to go to historical sites on vacation and Gettysburg was always one of my favorites.

I fell in love with acting in high school so I decided to go to Temple University where I received my bachelor’s degree in theater. Many stage roles followed, but then I experienced excellent living history performances at places like Colonial Williamsburg and I was hooked! I could combine history with acting! I began by creating a historical character interpretation of George Washington, which I continue to perform.

More recently, I created a living history program by portraying Civil War and Gettysburg veteran, James Maclay. Portraying him as a veteran in his later years not only allows me to tell his stories from the Civil War, it also allows me to talk about life as a veteran after the Civil War and about early efforts to preserve the Gettysburg battlefield and to place monuments on it. James Maclay was a real soldier who served in the artillery of the Army of the Potomac for four years, including fighting on all three days at Gettysburg. I feel privileged to be preserving his memory and preserving my family’s history. James Maclay was my wife’s great-great grandfather.

Combining music and history came naturally to me. I’ve played guitar since I was a teenager. As an adult, I learned to play historical music on the lute and vihuela (an early Spanish guitar). I soon discovered that I also loved to sing so I studied voice. I began using my vocal skills to share my love of popular songs from Colonial America and from the time of the American Civil War.

I believe that one of the best ways to understand the people of any historical period is to listen to the songs they sang. So many memorable songs were written during the time of the Civil War. These songs express patriotic fervor, sadness at the absence or loss of a loved one, romantic love, a soldier’s thoughts of battle or home, a view of an event or a prominent person, and the entire range of human emotion.

I am thrilled to be able to combine my love for history, music, and acting into a variety of historical performances that I am eager to share. Please contact me if you’d like to add George Washington, James Maclay, or period musical entertainment to your next event. I can greet your group upon its arrival at Gettysburg, provide dinner entertainment, or do stand-alone performances.


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