Park repairs complete as 'Horn' preps for opening
by Anna Oakes
"Horn in the West" will unveil a renovated amphitheater stage and a new, more historically accurate script at the opening of its 63rd season on Friday, June 27.
The historic outdoor drama set in the Revolutionary War era will run from June 27 to Aug. 16, open nightly except Mondays. A pre-show begins at 7:30 p.m., followed by the main performance at 8 p.m.
The outdoor drama is produced by the Southern Appalachian Historical Association at the town-owned Daniel Boone Park amphitheater. The park is located on Horn in the West Drive.
SAHA board Chairman Al Ernest said that repairs to the amphitheater stage are nearly complete, with only the planting of rhododendrons remaining on the to-do list.
A town inspector's report last fall cited the need for immediate repairs at the facility. The town and SAHA -- which has a license to use the town property -- discussed and negotiated a repair plan for months before beginning the repairs this spring.
The repairs include the demolition of a small building, the replacement of poles bracing stage walls, electrical wiring and other improvements.
"In effect, we have rebuilt that entire stage," Ernest said. "We put in close to $40,000 on the stage."
Other improvements include a fresh paint job and enhanced lighting and sound systems.
"We spruced up all over the place," Ernest said. "It's going to be a knockout this year."
The drama's script also received a makeover, thanks to the efforts of new Director Teresa Lee, who is a theater professor at Appalachian State University.
Lee previously told the Watauga Democrat the script would be revised to place greater emphasis on historically accurate events and on Daniel Boone. She said the dialogue has been altered to be more palatable for modern audiences.
"We wanted to do some rejuvenation of the script ... which has undergone many generations of revisions," Lee said. "But the traditional story is still intact. So, it will be the 'Horn in the West' that ... people are used to coming to see. But there are going to be some different twists."
"Horn in the West" is the longest running Revolutionary War drama in the country and among the oldest outdoor dramas in the nation.
"This is a story about community and community-building, literally and figuratively," Lee said. "These people came to a very rugged place, and they carved out a living and a life, and I think that's the kind of thing that anybody can relate to, because no matter what our struggles are and our differences are, we all relate to each other as human beings."
Rehearsals for the show began last week, and the technical crew arrived June 1.
Tickets range from $20 to $34 for adults and from $10 to $24 for children. Gold level seating and VIP package options are available.
Tickets will be available for a discounted price of $8 to Watauga County residents Friday and Saturday, June 27 and 28, and Friday and Saturday, Aug. 15 and 16. Tickets discounted at $10 are available for residents of Johnson County, Tenn., and Avery, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes and Caldwell counties in North Carolina on designated days throughout the season.
A buffet dinner from Dan'l Boone Inn is available on the grounds on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights before the show, with advanced orders required.
For tickets or more information, call (828) 264-2120 or visit http://www.horninthewest.com.
Frank Ruggiero contributed reporting to this article.