Horn' to celebrate 60th year

by Staff Reports

A High Country tradition makes its return, and this time for its 60th season: "Horn in the West," Boone's own out door drama.

One-hundred and twenty-five actors, technicians and volunteers, a scenic stage and hundreds of tourists add up to a show you won't soon forget.

"There are people who live here who haven't seen it," spokeswoman Virginia Roseman said. "That's just unacceptable."

This, she said, could be your year to catch a show that has captivated generations.

You know the story, about Daniel Boone and the Revolutionary War, but when you add in fire dances, battle scenes and heart-wrenching drama, it's a story too real for a textbook.

The play, written by Kermit Hunter, details the lives of pioneers braving the wilderness to settle in the Blue Ridge Mountains and away from British tyranny. It's that narrative that captivates director Julie Richardson. "It's the story of freedom," she said, and it's larger than a textbook summary.

Think music, choreography and drama, the makings of an epic tradition.

For Richardson, "Horn" is more than a job. It's an addiction. "I grew up watching 'Horn In The West' as a kid at the top of the hill while my mother worked at the gift shop," she said.

And she's had her hand in it all: Props, production, stage management and more. And, when she moved on to the "real world" to become a professional stage manager, she couldn't shake the "Horn."

When an opportunity presented itself to come home and direct, she said yes. This year's show isn't what you saw last year.

"We're working on tightening the script up a little bit," she said. "I've tried to tighten up scenes and make them live a little faster."

And, thanks to ASU dance instructor Susan Lutz's choreography and inspiration from the "Unto These Hills" Cherokee dancers, dance this year will be different than ever before.

It's all an attempt to emphasize the story.

"I think it's an important history lesson for us to remember in this day of technological advancement," Richardson said. "Sometimes we forget to look at our history."

The show itself is a personal history to several local families, including retired Watauga High School band director, Billy Ralph Winkler. Winkler, who met his wife at Horn in 1975, is one of the five William Ralph Winklers to have taken the "Horn" stage. "It's something we've always done," he said.

And this year Winkler, the 2010 Mark R. Sumner Award winner (presented at the National Conference on Outdoor Drama) can't wait to get started.

"We want to use the 60th as a vehicle to remind people of how long this has been going on and what a wonderful treasure it is for the community and state," he said.

"Horn in the West" happens at the Daniel Boone Amphitheatre and premieres June 17, with shows running Tuesday through Sunday. Gates open at 7:30 p.m. and show time's at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults and $9 for children. Discounts are available.

Check out www.horinthewest.com for more information or to purchase tickets.

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