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'Unwrapping History' a priceless gift to community

Sabrina Sweeney performs in 'Unwrapping Local History' Sabrina Sweeney performs in 'Unwrapping Local History'

Who knew that a volunteer cast of amateur actors could give such a triumphant performance that delightfully portrays Henderson County history of the past 100 years?

'Unwrapping Local History, which played to near-sellout audiences in the old courtroom of the Historic Courthouse Thursday through Saturday, is the play by Tom E. Orr that tells the people's history in a fast-paced and well-staged production. Through vignettes, Orr pulls the audience from the late 1800s through the 1960s. As Orr said in an interview before the show's premiere, so many local history portrayals stop before the Fifties and Sixties. Because those decades are in the living memory of many in the audience, the second act provokes no small amount of head nodding and appreciative laughter.

From the 1800s to the Teen Canteen era, we see scenes of Columbus Pace, the long serving clerk of court, the acts of Christmas charity of Claudia Holt Oates (1872-1965), dances at the old Terrace Hotel, the old Town Hall and Opera House, the Queen, the Rex and Carolina theatres, Baker-Barber Studios (with a north-facing skylight for better light), Brock's Drive-In, Freeman's Newsstand and more.

The all-volunteer cast was made up of Bryan Byrd, Richard Brown, Sandee Carpenter, Aidan Freeman, Mia Freeman, Fletch Griffith, Marcia Kelso Mills, Jay Mullinax, Penny Gash Pearson, Ronnie Pepper, Sabrina Sweeney and young student dancers from Pat’s School of Dance directed by Pat Shepherd. The band was made up of J. Larry Keith, Rick McMinn and Sandra McMinn. "Unwrapping History" sizzles with an energy and depth that reader plays by the Courthouse Players have lacked. The volunteer actors had to learn their lines and rehearse for many late nights to make the performance as good as it was.

Retired Hendersonville High School teacher Kaye Youngblood handled stage managing and visual imagery along with Trish Allen and Tabita Brockus. John Arnett did the set and lighting design. John Shepherd and Dustin Phillips provided sound. A fundraiser for the new Walk of Fame Committee, the show was performed four times Thursday through Saturday.