PARKERSBURG, W.Va. – The history of West Virginia will be on stage at the Smoot Theatre in September.
“Golden Horseshoe” is based on the history of the 35th state and is intended to teach students preparing for the Golden Horseshoe, a test for eighth-graders of their knowledge of West Virginia history. Achieving students are awarded the Golden Horseshoe.
“I also think it’s great that they learn by going to the theater,” said Felice Jorgeson, executive director of the theater.
“Golden Horseshoe” was written by David Scoville and R.J. Nestor, a Grafton, W.Va., native who now lives in Morgantown, They have written three musicals and more than 10 screenplays.
“Golden Horseshoe” was first performed in October 2013 to more than 1,250 students. Two of their screenplays are in development as feature films, including “Out of the Depths” set during the 1968 mine disaster in Farmington, W.Va.
The show will be on the stage at the Smoot Theatre in downtown Parkersburg on Sept. 21-22 for students. The 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 show is for the general public and tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors. Tickets also are available at tickets.ghmusical.com.
The Golden Horseshoe test is sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Education. Eighth-grade students are eligible and those making the grade are dubbed a Lady or a Knight of the Golden Horseshoe and receive a pin denoting the high honor.
Jorgeson said she was excited to have “Golden Horseshoe” at the Smoot. Before becoming executive director at the theater, she was a director of the Parkersburg High School Marching Band and remains involved in encouraging music education and participation in the schools.
Many of the shows at the Smoot are geared toward younger audiences. “Golden Horseshoe” is intended for older children, she said.
“Everything in this is targeting middle school kids,” Jorgeson said.
“Golden Horseshoe” is the story of a father sharing the state’s history with his son and recounts the birth of the state in the Civil War, the Hatfield and McCoy feud, John Brown, Gen. Stonewall Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and other historical notables and events in West Virginia history.
The show is on a five-city tour in Parkersburg, Morgantown, Moundsville, Charleston and Petersburg.
“Next year hopefully we’ll be doing a lot more,” said Ed Johnson of Morgantown, who once taught at West Virginia University at Parkersburg and is helping with the promotion and organization.
The idea for “Golden Horseshoe” grew from the sesquicentennial celebration of the Civil War and the creation of West Virginia, Johnson said.
Nestor has a bachelor’s of science in music composition and a master’s in performance. From West Virginia University, he has directed more than 60 musicals, including “Carousel,” “West Side Story” and “My Fair Lady.
His on-stage credits include Lancelot in “Camelot,” Horton in “Seussical” and Wiley Post in “The Will Rogers Follies.” He has composed incidental music for Brecht’s “Caucasian Chalk Circle,” Strindberg’s “Ghost Sonata” and the Glitterati Productions Chicago premiere of Ken Ludwig’s “Moon Over Buffalo.”
He is the director of liturgical music at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church in Morgantown, served two seasons as interim and associate conductor of the North Pittsburgh Philharmonic and maintains a private voice studio and is a professional piano accompanist. Nestor lives in Morgantown with his wife, Elisha, and daughter Daisy.
Performers in “Golden Horseshoe” are:
* Tyler Kovar, Fairmont, who plays Wes. Kovar graduated from Fairmont State University with a bachelor’s in theater.
* Nick Ryan, Charleston, as the dad. He is working on a master’s in acting at West Virginia University.
* Ashley Shade from Berkeley Springs as Rose. She was in both previous productions of “Golden Horseshoe.”
* Andy Harvey, Beckley, as Man 1, who has acted in “Les Miserables” as Jean Valjean, Shrek in “Shrek the Musical,” Danforth in “The Crucible” and Marley in “A Christmas Carol.”
* Jennifer Lynn Arnold of Charleston as Woman 1. Arnold was the mischievous Rumpleteazer at the Cobb Energy Center with the Atlanta Lyric Theatre.
* Laura LaCara of Huntington as Woman 2. She attended Wright State University at Dayton and lives in New York City and recently portrayed Eliza in “My Fair Lady.”
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