"1863" needs male actors for its premiere in Parkersburg.
After the first four days of auditions for the play this week, only six of 18 male roles have been filled, said director Billie Harmon. Both of the female roles in "1863" have been filled, Harmon said.
"1863", which has been in the works for four years, shows the importance of Parkersburg citizens in West Virginia becoming a state during the Civil War. Joyce Ancrile of Vienna wrote the 43-page script using information from Dave McKain's books, "Where It All Began" and "The Civil War and Northwestern Virginia."
After reading McKain's books, Ancrile said she learned how instrumental Parkersburg was to the formation of West Virginia. The primary "movers and shakers" in statehood were Parkersburg residents such as Peter Van Winkle, Arthur Boreman and Jacob Beeson Blair, she said.
The setting for "1863" is the Swann House, a nice hotel built by the railroad in Parkersburg at the end of Ann Street near The Point, Ancrile said. This is where the planning for the development of the state took place.
James Wharton, a local newspaper editor at the time, is a main character in the production, said Ancrile.
Ancrile admitted she added a touch of action to the show to make it "dramatically interesting," but followed the historical bent of the events. "McKain wanted it to be factual," she said.
The production is scheduled for Oct. 26-28 at the Smoot Theatre. Linda Smith is in charge of costuming and Ron Harmon is handling the set design.
Billie Harmon believes play officials are having a difficult time finding males to audition for "1863" because auditions also are being held Sunday and Monday for the popular musical "The Secret Garden" at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg. Also, "End Days" starts its run of performances Sept. 14 at the Mid-Ohio Valley Players theater in Marietta.
"We know it is a good show, an interesting play," Harmon said. She noted that "1863" is not a dry history piece - it has gunshots and cannons.
If not enough actors are found to stage "1863", the show may be delayed until next year, during West Virginia's sesquicentennial celebration, Harmon said.
Additional auditions for "1863" will be 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and Sept. 5 and 6 at the Oil and Gas Museum, 119 Third St. in Parkersburg.
In her 20-plus years as a community theater director in the Mid-Ohio Valley, Harmon said she has always been able to find enough actors for a show.
"We will call people and beat the bushes" for actors after "The Secret Garden" auditions, Harmon said. "And see who is leftover."
Pete DePond of Vienna was surprised when two of his classmates from Monongah (W.Va.) High School, Class of 1954 showed up at the 12th annual Sons of Italy family picnic last Saturday at Dils Riverfront Park in Vienna. Mike Oliverio Sr. of Morgantown and Betty Cunningham of Kelly Town, Marion County, joined DePond, a Sons of Italy board member, for a day of food, music, games and conversation that raises money for a scholarship fund. Oliverio and Cunningham were invited by Mike's son and daughter-in-law, Joe and Paula Oliverio of Belmont, who are Sons of Italy members. Mike Oliverio, who is active with the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival in Clarksburg Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 and 2, said he enjoyed the Wood County celebration and reminiscing with DePond and hoped to attend again. George Cosenza, master of ceremonies, said the picnics have raised $50,000 for college scholarships.
This is one of those weekends when I wish I could be in two (or more) places at the same time. On tap today are the West Virginia State Honey Festival in City Park, the Humane Society of Parkersburg's Mountaineer tailgate fundraiser at Dils Riverfront Park in Vienna, the Smoot Theatre's party in the alley and Motown Concert, SW Resources benefit auction at Parkersburg Country Club, Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park's Frolic on the Island and Parkersburg Boy Scout Troop 3's 95th reunion dinner at the Nemesis Shrine building.
Contact Paul LaPann at firstname.lastname@example.org