‘Horn in the West’ sounds June 27
“Horn in the West” is more than an outdoor drama.
It’s a living outdoor drama, changing and evolving throughout its 63 years into something the High Country proudly calls its own.
But when the show opens June 27, audiences will realize that 2014’s production isn’t yesteryear’s “Horn.” Artistic director Teresa Lee calls it a revival of the 1962 script, modified to incorporate some twists, different characters, dialogue and even entirely new scenes.
Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains during the Revolutionary War, the drama follows the exploits of Dr. Geoffrey Stuart (played by J.J. McCarson), a British loyalist sent to the New World with his family to study smallpox, and legendary explorer Daniel Boone (John Mark Bowman), who’s surveying the territories for potential settlements. But when Stuart’s son, Jack (Jake Dailey), winds up in the wrong place at the wrong time, the doctor is faced with a life-changing dilemma.
“The traditional story is still in tact,” Lee said, “so, it will still be the ‘Horn in the West’ story that people are used to coming to see. But there are going to be some different twists.”
One of which is narration, courtesy of Daniel Boone, who will be telling the story to a young boy (Liam Purcell), the play’s only new character.
“We really want to highlight the story through the notion of storytelling … so Boone will be narrating the story this year,” Lee said. “This is a traditional story about this area and from this area. The ‘Horn in the West’ as an entity in and of itself is embedded in the culture and traditions of the area, so we want to pay homage to that through the very active Boone telling the story to the next generation, so we will see him doing that on stage, which will help the audience connect the scenes and follow the story thread a little more clearly.”
The new framework, Lee said, makes for some surprises, both fun and tear-jerking. To craft the new scenes and character, Lee turned to award-winning playwright and dramaturg Derek Davidson.
“It’s been a collaborative effort,” Lee said. “It’s taking many of the words that other people and past directors have worked with, and some of the collaborators this year include members of the production team and even the actors.”
The key was making it relatable, something Lee said was already built into the story.
“This is a story about community and community-building, literally and figuratively,” she said. “These (colonists) came to live in a very rugged place, and they carved out a living and a life, and I think that’s the kind of thing that anybody can relate to, because no matter what our struggles and differences are, we all relate to each other as human beings.”
Even though those depicted were embroiled in a tremendous conflict, she said, they remained committed to living their lives in the midst of it all.
“So, it is a story of the common people,” she said. “It’s also the story of an iconic hero, Daniel Boone, and we must not forget that.”
Playing that hero is Virginia-based actor John Mark Bowman, who makes his “Horn in the West” debut this season.
“It’s very fun, but humbling, as well, because I’m coming into this, and suddenly, I’m the center of attention — the big man,” Bowman said. “But the story is very interesting, and I love how it’s based on historical fact with fiction in there.”
To ensure historical accuracy, Lee and company turned to Dave Davis, curator of the neighboring Hickory Ridge Living History Museum.
“He’s been a key player in making sure that the historical accuracy was there as far as we can achieve within a fictional story,” Lee said. “It’s a fictitious story with some real characters walking around in it, so we really do need to keep that in mind. But you have to take poetic license some times.”
That’s where the pageantry comes in, as seen in the drama’s chorus and dance scenes.
“Every outdoor drama has elements of pageantry, but there’s also, I think, something very appealing about that to us at a gut level,” Lee said. “We love to see pageantry and larger-than-life stories. They’re inspiring, and they give us hope on some deep level. That’s where I wanted to take the story, in the direction of hope and willingness to persevere, because at its heart, I think that’s what this story is about.”
Show Times & More
Taking place at the Daniel Boone Amphitheater in Daniel Boone Park off Horn in the West Drive in Boone, “Horn in the West” runs Tuesday through Sunday, June 27 to Aug. 16. Show time is 8 p.m. each night.
General admission is $20 for adults, $10 for children 12 and younger and $13 for students 13 and older with valid ID. On opening and closing weekends, Watauga County residents will be admitted for $8 general admission. Membership, VIP and additional discounts are also available.
Gates open at 7:30 p.m., and early arrivals are invited to tour the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, located on site, for a glimpse into 18th-century life.
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, patrons can reserve a seat at the pre-show Dinner with Dan’l, featuring an all-you-can-eat, Southern-style meal, courtesy of the Dan’l Boone Inn. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $9 for children 12 and younger.
“Horn in the West” and Hickory Ridge Living History Museum are productions of the Southern Appalachian Historical Association, a Boone-based nonprofit organization.
For tickets and more information, call (828) 264-2120, or visit http://www.horninthewest.com.
Cast & Crew
“Horn in the West” stars Luke Schaffer as Judge Henderson, John Mark Bowman as Daniel Boone, Maddie Hintz as Widow Howard, Brad Archer as the Rev. Isaiah Sims, J.J. McCarson as Dr. Geoffrey Stuart, Laura Gregory as Martha Stuart, Jake Dailey as Jack Stuart, Elise Williams as Mary Greene, Chris Bellinger as Col. MacKenzie, Sarah Flanagan as Nancy Ward, Joshua Holt as Dragging Canoe and Liam Purcell as Jackson.
Dancers are Andrew Benson, Benedetto Michael Robinson, Kira White, Sarah Catherine Carter, Carly Parrott, Raquelle Pollock, Ryan Tucker, Tyler Kleckner and Jared Coble, and chorus members are James Hester, Sophia Veser, Neely Scott, Luke Schaffer, Connor Murphy-White, Joshua Holt, A.J. McCurry and Nicole Barone.
The crew includes Teresa Lee, artistic director; Derek Davidson, dramaturg; Shauna Godwin, dance choreographer; Joshua Lee Howard, musical director; Sarah Flanagan, fight choreographer and props master; Alice Neff, costume designer; John Marty, lighting designer; Greg Williams, sound designer; Molly H. Donahue, production stage manager; Owen M. Nichols, technical director; Emily Siegal, deck stage manager; Brittney Suttles, master electrician; Glenn Diskill, audio/tech operator; Chris Bellinger, dialect coach; Allison Collins, costume shop supervisor; Emily Maria Candelario, costume technician; Leah Chandler, general technician; Sloane Hickson, actor/tech; Karen Alexandra Thead, assistant technical director; Hallie Newcomer, assistant stage manager; Phillip Henderson, technician; and Jessie Woodard, assistant director for children.