Horn in the West

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Horn in the West, by Kermit Hunter, is an outdoor drama produced every summer since 1952 in the Daniel Boone Amphitheatre in Boone, North Carolina. The show, the oldest revolutionary war drama in the United States, was about the life and times of the first White people to settle the mountains of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. It covers a time period during the American Revolution between the Battle of Alamance in 1771 and the Battle of King's Mountain in 1780. The story follows the family of Dr. Geoffrey Stuart, a British loyalist, who is forced to flee the lower colony due to the actions of his son during the Battle of Alamance. Led into the mountain country by frontiersman Daniel Boone, Stuart must come to terms with his own loyalties, which are divided between his country and his son.

There have been hundreds of cast members in the show's long history, but the three roles most often noted are those of Dr. Geoffrey Stuart, Daniel Boone, and Rev. Isaiah Sims, an itinerant Baptist circuit-riding preacher who befriends Stuart during his time in the mountains. Dr. Stuart has been portrayed by a great many actors over the years. William Ross originated the role of Dr. Stuart. James Maddux acted the role for several years; as did Mark Allen Woodard, who portrayed Dr. Stuart from 2003 until 2007; Andrew Dylan Ray, who portrayed the Doctor from 2008-2011; Ryan Gentry, who held the role in 2012 and 2013, J.J. McCarson in 2014, and Jake Duvall-Early, the latest performer in the role. The original performer cast as Daniel Boone in the show was Ned Austin. He was followed by Glenn Causey, who donned Boone's "coon-skin cap" for forty-one years until shortly before his death (and is still commonly associated with the role in the Boone area); Wesley Martin, who assumed the role of the rugged frontiersman from 1998 until 2011; Joseph Watson in 2012 and 2013; and the current "Dan'l," Jon Mark Bowman. The role of Preacher Sims was written into the show in 1956 for Charles C. Elledge, an original cast member, who went on to portray Rev. Sims until 1983. After Mr. Elledge left the role shortly before his death, the role went through a succession of actors, including Jerry Vencill, Ricky Joe Jessup, Doug Williams, and Darrell King, who performed in the role for over twenty years. For 2014, the role has been passed to Bradley Archer.

The show's original Daniel Boone, Ned Austin, met his wife, Roberta, in the first season of the show. She was in the cast of the 1952 production. The following year their son David joined the cast, aged three weeks. Austin died in February, 2007.

Horn in the West has become a summer tradition in the North Carolina Appalachian region. Kai Jurgensen was the first artistic director of the show, followed by George McCalmon, Edgar Loessin, William Ross, David French, Gene Wilson, Ward Haarbauer, and Richard Ayers. Ed Pilkington took over as Artistic Director in 1971 and directed until 1991. Succeeding directors have included A. Lynn Lockrow, Dewey "Bud" Mayes, Michael Scialabba, and Cherie Elledge-Grapes, daughter of Charlie (Rev. Sims) Elledge. From 2008 to 2013, Julie A. Richardson took the reigns of the show, and for the 2014 season, the duties of Director had been assumed by Teresa Lee, who performed them until her firing after the 2016 season.

Traditionally beginning in mid-June and ending in mid-August, the Horn observed its 63rd consecutive production season in the summer of 2014. Horn in the West (and the Daniel Boone Theatre) shares a 35-acre (140,000 m2) park in the center of the town of Boone with Hickory Ridge Living History Museum and the Daniel Boone Native Gardens.

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