First Posted: 8/28/2009
ARARAT, Va. It happened in the Blue Ridge Parkway is the latest work by playwright Frank Levering that debuted last night at the Cherry Orchard Theatre and continues on for seven more performances.
Levering said the light-hearted comedy is set at Fox Hunters Paradise, an overlook near Cumberland Knob. The story is about a character a ficticious chief of police of Mount Airy, Billy Hatcher, who is played by Bert Wood.
Its very funny to have Bert playing this role. Its his first adult active role. Hes a very talented guy, Levering said.
Levering said the play is about two middle-aged people who are newly divorced. A high society woman from Winston-Salem named by Cybil Jolley, which is played by Christine Gorelick, meets the chief of police on a blind date.
They are meeting for the first time, and its the first time either of them has gone out on a date since their divorces, so they are particularly nervous. Billy Hatcher meets her in Mount Airy, but convinces her to go to the parkway to watch the Perceid meteor shower in August. She reluctantly agrees to go with him, but thats not the only thing on his mind. Its Saturday night and the police chief is going to have some fun.
Gorelick is from Winston-Salem and has stared in several plays. She played the lead in Whos Afraid of Virginia Wolfe at the Little Theater of Winston-Salem.
Another key character in the play is a park ranger who is played by a Mount Airy newcomer Dan Hornak. Levering said Hornak and his wife, Judy, moved here from Washington, D.C.
He looks quite a bit like John Wayne and he plays a parkway ranger who fancies himself as John Wayne. One big twist in the play is that hes 6 foot, 4 inches, and looks like, walks like and talks like John Wayne. He is an armed law enforcement officer and hes caught these two who have done something highly illegal, Levering said with a laugh.
Levering said the other actor in the play is Bo Dyer, who plays a Jehovahs Witness.
The catch is just when you think hes gone, he comes back, Levering said.
Its a zany, whacky play.
Levering said he dreamed up the idea for the play last year. He tries to write one play each year for the theater at the orchard that has been in his family for generations. He said the year before he wrote a play about the 100th anniversary of the orchard that was sort of depressing. This year, he turned it around with a romantic comedy, that just happens to correspond with the upcoming 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway next year.
Its meant to be funny. The police chief is trying his darndest to be funny. But she doesnt like a lot of his material.
The play is set outside on a grassy lawn with the foothills of the piedmont in the background. Levering encourages playgoers to bring a lawn chair or a blanket. Bringing a picnic dinner and a bottle of wine is often a favorite activity for playgoers.
Its a very relaxed situation.
The show will go on even if its raining or threatening to rain. The play will be moved to the pack house.
Apple and pear picking season is just beginning at the orchard. Levering said after Labor Day, the fruit will be for sale six days a week.
Admission to the play is $10 and will be collected the night of the performance. No reservations are necessary.
This play is recommended for mature audiences.
The play continues tonight, Sunday and Sept. 4-7 and begins at 7 p.m. There will be a performance at Cross Creek Country Club on Sept. 11 at 8:30 p.m.
Directions to the Cherry Orchard Theatre are: coming from the Mount Airy area, take U.S. 52 north across the Virginia line. Turn right onto Epworth Road, go three miles. Turn left on Wards Gap Road, go four miles, then take Orchard Gap Road. Its one mile up to the theater. From downtown Mount Airy, take North Main Street, which turns into Wards Gap Road, then turn on Orchard Gap Road to the orchard.
For more information about the orchard or the play, go to www.leveringorchard.com or call 786-4316 or (276) 755-4837.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.