VMI Community Theatre Revives Local History Play

LEXINGTON, Va., July 5, 2022—The VMI Community Theatre presents an updated version of “Heroes, Hustlers, Schemers, & Scamps: Curious Characters from Rockbridge County History” on July 13, 14, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Gillis Theater in Marshall Hall on post at Virginia Military Institute.

This play was a summer offering in 2016, providing brief glimpses into the lives of 21 lesser-known characters who played roles in Rockbridge County’s history from the 1700s to 1974. Originally presented in 2011 as “Rockbridge Anthology” for the Rockbridge Historical Society, the play has been updated with some new characters and additional American folk music.

Featured characters include: Mary McDowell Greenlee, an independent pioneer woman; John Peter Salling, Western explorer and journal keeper; “Jockey” John Robinson, a horse trader and distiller; Mary Moore Brown, frontier survivor; John Jordan and William Weaver, men of iron; Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the reaper; Sally McDowell Thomas, an early divorced woman; Jacquelin Beverly Stanard, New Market cadet; Margaret Junkin Preston, poetess of the South; Hannah Davidson, Civil War mother; Lilla Pendleton, a “modern” post-Civil War young lady; Reverend and Mrs. Benjamin Moomaw, Buena Vista town builders; Charles M. Figgat, notorious bank robber; Sally Bruce Dickinson, Irish Creek school teacher; Miss Annie Jo White, Lexington socialite; Harry Lee and Eliza Bannister Walker, prominent local African Americans; and Mel Greenberg, modern con man.

VMI Theatre Director Joellen K. Bland has adapted the play from local histories by Oren Frederick Morton, Henry Boley, and “Remarkable Rockbridge” by Charles A. Bodie. Some material was also taken from the “Proceedings” of the Rockbridge Historical Society from 1949 to 2012. The play features thumb-nail sketches of unique characters and encourages further investigation into their lives.

The cast of this year’s show includes a variety of performers from VMI and the local community, including Ethan Bedell, Kacie D’Alessandro, Linda Gorman, Andrew Hartless, Marianne Hause, Sue Ann Huger, Don Kludy, Colin Nicassio, Paula and Tom Oxendine, Jack Page, Shay Peters, Maria Quillin, Ned Riester, Liz Shupe, Francis “Pickle” Watts, and Victoria (Tori) Wright ’24.

Admission is cash or check at the door. Adults are $10 and students and senior citizens age 65+ are $5. Cadets and children ages 6 and under are free. Reservations are not necessary.

The VMI Community Theatre was established in 2011 as an all-volunteer, not-for-profit group that welcomes all interested performers and crew in the Lexington-Rockbridge area. It is based at VMI in the Gillis Theater and produces a summer and a December holiday show each year.

For more information contact Bland at 540-464-7389 or blandjk@vmi.edu.

Marianne Hause
Communications & Marketing

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