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Theatre West Virginia musical captures the heart of the state


The Register-Herald

The cast of Theatre West Virginia’s production of “Paradise Park” work through their scenes during a dress rehearsal on Thursday at Grandview.
(Register-Herald photo by Chris Jackson)

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Whether they know it yet or not, “Paradise Park: The Musical” at Theatre West Virginia is already alive in the heart of a native West Virginian.

It’s a challenge for a group of actors to capture onstage what a West Virginian knows — the way the mountains embrace and isolate, how the mines build up and tear down; the feeling of freedom in the “holler,” and the suffocation of it. The frustration of being forced out, then drawn back; and the desire to shake off the coal dust and prove the stereotypes and national rankings wrong. Then realizing that your hardscrabble state made a bunch of innovative survivors. And “they’re” dealing with one of ’em.

It could sound presumptuous — absurdly offensive, even — to say that a musical set in a trailer park captures the heart of West Virginia. But “Paradise Park: The Musical” — a play about what would happen if God visited a West Virginia trailer park — has been just what the state needs to showcase the beauty of its people, TWV General Manager Scott Hill said Tuesday.

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