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‘Otto Wood’ drama returns to Wilkes

Article Published: Jun. 19 | Modified: Jul. 6
‘Otto Wood’ drama returns to Wilkes

Otto Wood is pictured in a photo taken before his death. Wood was killed in a 1930 shootout with police.

Photo submitted

The fourth season of “Otto Wood: The Bandit” is set to open June 19, and the cast and crew are geared up for this year’s performances.

The outdoor drama, which is directed by Heather Dean and stars Nat Padgett as Otto Wood, will be performed at The Record Park at the corner of Fourth and E streets in North Wilkesboro June 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28 and July 3 and 5.

The play tells the story of Otto Wood, a Wilkes-born, Depression-era desperado whose continuous scrapes with the law landed him behind bars numerous times. Wood escaped four times from Central Prison in Raleigh. He was killed in a gun battle with Salisbury police on New Year’s Eve 1930.
The cast has been in rehearsals for the past three weeks, and construction of the set began this weekend.

Live music will performed before each show, starting at 7:30 p.m., between scenes and during intermission. The Elkville String Band will return for its third year to play music, with the exception of the June 20 and 21 shows. The music on those evenings will be performed by the band, Crabgrass.

Again, this year, the courtroom scene and a jail breakout scene, filmed by cinematographer Jared Shumate, will be shown on a large screen on front of the main stage. 
Shumate, who also plays Ezekiel Young and Silas Johnson in the live portion of the performance, said, “I’m looking forward to it. It’s always a good time. I love ‘Otto Wood.’ This year is going to be the best year ever.”

About the upcoming season, director Heather Dean said, “Every year, we find a way to fit another piece of his story into it that we couldn’t before. This past year, specifically, since we’ve had more historical research presented to us, we’ve been able to tie more pieces together and add some juicy new tidbits that the audience will delight and revel in. The show evolves a little every year.

“This year, I am pleased that previous cast members join us again. Some are reprising roles, some are playing new parts. I’m especially excited to have some of the Wilkes County Schools theater department involved this year.”

The cast of “Otto Wood: The Bandit” includes Nat Padgett as Otto Wood, Wes Martin as Warden Pugh, Danielle Pardue as Ma Wood, Lucas Matney as man at train station/Assistant Police Chief Kesler, Danny Pardue as Deputy/Gov. Gardner, Matthew Owens as Young Otto, Matt Cleary as Frank Sparks, Crystal Dean as Corzetta Sparks/Dealy Johnson, Riley Owens and Kirstin Miller as the Sparks children, Evan Anderson as Gangster/Kaplan, Jared Shumate as Ezekiel Young/Silas Johnson, Bucky Luttrell as Devil Anse Hatfield, Monte Clonch as Hatfield kin, Dub Harris, Sheba Harris and Beth Billings as The Smithfield Family, Jasmine Isaacs as Rushie, Alexia Miller as Rushie’s baby, Gabriella Lankford as Mabel Wood, Francisco Delacruz-Hernandez as Deputy Jimmy Greene/Roy Barker, Heather Dean as Darcie Jane, James Matney as Police Chief Rankin and Kumari Randleman as Dorothy Owen.

Filmed segment performers include Graham Phelps as Prosecutor Spruill, Travis Collins as Defense Attorney Brown, Dub Harris as Judge, Eric Payne as Jury Foreman, Marilyn Payne as Court Reporter, Carl Martin as John Starnes and Richie Feimster as Prison Guard.

The crew includes stage managers Adrian Smithey and Lucas Matney. Light and sound techs are Adam Pruitt, Wes Martin and Isaac Shumate.

Nightly performances begin at 7:30 p.m., with live music. Tickets are $8 each and are available at the offices at The Record and Thursday Printing and are also sold at the show. Seats are available or bring your own lawn chair. 
“Otto Wood: The Bandit” is a family-friendly show.

The stage play was written in 2010 by Record editor Jerry Lankford and is based on the autobiography Wood wrote while in prison, as well as interviews and research conducted by Lankford.

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