The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

June 11, 2013

TWV opens 53rd season tonight

By Jessica Farrish
Register-Herald Reporter

GRANDVIEW — Back in 1961, when Kermit Hunter and composer Jack Kilpatrick penned a new musical drama called “Honey in the Rock,” they wanted to institute a strong story of the birth of West Virginia.

They mixed historical facts with musical numbers and created an unforgettable family that was determined to stand with the Union during the Civil War.

“The hope, then, was that ‘Honey’ would run through 1963, which was the state’s 100th birthday,” said Gayle Bowling, general manager of Theatre West Virginia.

“Here we are, all these years down the road, and it’s still going.”

With the state celebrating its 150th birthday on June 20,  “Honey” is in its 53rd season.

John and Dave Morgan, Marguerite Kimball, Melindy Hawkins and other characters will inhabit the outdoor stage of Cliffside Amphitheatre at Grandview Park tonight, as the story of the birth of West Virginia echoes across the years for yet another summer of theater-goers.

While National Weather Forecast meteorologists predict dry skies for this evening, “Honey” cast members braved a downpour during rehearsals Monday morning, Bowling said.

“I’ve tried for a number of years now to control the weather, but I don’t seem to have it down pat,” said Bowling. “It’s just one of the hazards of being outdoors.

“But the cast was on stage, and the shower came, and they were on the stage smiling.”

“Hatfields and McCoys” opens Wednesday, and late in the season, TWV will also present “The Wizard of Oz” and “Rocket Boys, the Musical,” based on the bestselling Homer Hickam memoir “Rocket Boys.”

TWV production/company manager Annie Bellinger said that “Wizard” was selected to appeal to the influx of  boys and their families that the Boy Scouts Jamboree is expected to bring to the region next month.

“Little boys like things that explode, so we will have fireballs for the witch, and there will be fog,” she said.

Attendance for tonight’s opening of “Honey” looks promising, with only around 80 seats left by Monday afternoon, Bowling reported.

“The phones are still ringing,” she said. “We’re down to the wire with seating.”

Residents of Raleigh, Fayette, Summers, Greenbrier, Mercer and Wyoming counties get free admission this evening and Wednesday evening with the donation of a nonperishable staple food item.

Showtime is 8:15 p.m. at the Cliffside Amphitheatre at Grandview Park, 4700 Grandview Road.

“Honey in the Rock” performance dates are: June 11, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 26, 30, July 2, 4, 6, 14, 19, 23, 28, August 2, 4, and 8.

“Hatfields and McCoys” performance dates are: June 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, July 3, 5, 7, 9, 13, 17, 21, 25, 27, 31, August 3, 6, 10, and 11.

“The Wizard of Oz” performance dates are: July 12, 16, 18, 20, 24, 26, 30, August 1, 7 and 9.

“Rocket Boys, the Musical,” performance dates are August 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25.

Adult tickets are $19, seniors are $17 and children under 12 are $9 or free per child sitting on a lap.

Concert tickets for The Embers, June 28, and Phil Dirt and the Dozers, Aug. 30, are $22.

For more information, tickets or reservations, call 304-256-6800 or visit www.theatrewestvirginia.com.

—  E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com