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Posted November 16, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Playwright: Wayside's 'Glory Bea' one of most popular ever

Audrey Nakagawa, right, who played Glory Bea in last year’s performance of "Glory Bea! A Shenandoah Christmas Story," with Jody Lee, center, and Matthew Baldoni, will reprise the role this year. Courtesy Wayside Theatre

By Josette Keelor

Playing on last year's success, the cast of Wayside Theatre's popular show "Glory Bea! A Shenandoah Christmas Story" will reprise the original work written by Larry Dahlke and Richard Follett. Both actors, who have performed several times on the stage at Wayside, also wrote the musical's score.

"Glory Bea is a musical theater piece of and for the Shenandoah Valley about and for the Shenandoah Valley," said Follett, an English and theater teacher at Skyline High School in Front Royal. When he and Dalke, now of Chicago, came up with the idea for the stage play, Follett said, "it basically started with a dare as so many things do."

"We've just spurred each other on, and it wouldn't have been completed if we hadn't spurred each other on," Follett said.

"It's one of the most successful shows in Wayside Theatre history," he said. "Which is pretty amazing for a new work."

The story of a Shenandoah Valley family man who tries to make it home in time for Christmas after seeking work on Skyline Drive in the new Shenandoah National Park, "Glory Bea!" takes place in 1933 and includes a lot of real life local history.

"I spent months reading weather reports and train schedules," Follett said.

The play, he said, is "specifically geared toward families and heritage," something that paid off for him last year when a theatergoer told him that he and Dahlke had perfectly captured the way life in the valley had been for her family when she, like so many others, had been displaced by the building of the national park.

"It was so wonderful to have that affirmation that we had gotten it right," Follett said. "In terms of authenticity and storyline, we're really honing in on the essence of the valley experience."

Audrey Nakagawa, who plays the young Glorianna Beatrice, "Glory Bea," will reprise her role from last year in the double-cast play. Hannah Marteeny will portray Glory for other performances.

Others are Jody Lee as Gabe, Jason Labrador and Jessica Jernigan as Zeke, Steve Przybylski and Darrell Johnston as Mike, Thomasin Savaiano and Kimberly Braun as Annie, Benjamin Reed and Bob Payne as John and Theresa McGuirk and Leslie Putnam as Sarah.

The cast also includes a host of local child actors.

More than anything, Follett said, "Larry and I wrote this show because we just wanted to give a gift back to the valley."

"My life here has been abundant and wonderful."

Wayside Theatre's "Glory Bea! A Shenandoah Christmas Story" will run from Nov. 24 through Dec. 24, at 7863 Main St. in Middletown. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, except for Nov. 25. Other performances will be at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 25, Dec. 2, Dec 16 and Dec. 23; at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 21 and at 1:30 on Dec. 24. There will be no Nov. 29 or Dec. 5 performance. Ticket prices are $26 to $32 with discounts for full-time students, seniors and groups of 20 and more, except for Saturday night performances. Children's tickets are $10 for any performance. For more information, call 869-1776 or visit www.waysidetheatre.org.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com

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