Ohio's heritage will come back to life this Friday as the Appalachian Green Parks Project returns with a series of performances produced by the Ohio Valley Summer Theatre at ARTS/West in Athens. In its heyday during the summers of 1973-76, the Green Parks Project performed to crowds of thousands in Ohio's state parks.
After a successful run earlier this Spring, AGPP & Friends returns with nine shows June 29 - July 7. According to a news release, each of the performances will be unique, just as they were years ago. Musical director Charlie Lewis will work in as many former cast members and musical numbers as possible over the nine-day run. The Green Parks reunion will also reunite the fondly remembered Vinton County Frogwhompers, a bluegrass/strong band popular in the Athens area in the 1970s.
In the mid-'70s AGPP brought audiences authentic northern Appalachian music, and dramatized stories in the form of song and traditional dance routines. Soon the Green Parks Project grew more popular, performing to crowds at the Ohio State Fair and traveling to Washington D.C. to perform on the National Mall at the request of Ohio congressional members including Sen. John Glenn. In 1974, the Appalachian Green Parks Project received the Governor's Award for Community Action.
As Sen. Glenn put it after a performance in the mid-1970s, "The invigorating songs and narratives so well presented by Green Parks Project reflect the rich history and traditions of America's Appalachian mountain region."
It began as a joint venture between the Ohio Valley Summer Theatre (OVST), the OU School of Theater and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. In 1973, Ohio and the nation faced a gas crisis. To provide Ohioans with closer vacation destinations, the ODNR began revamping the state park system. This included inviting park visitors to enjoy Arts-in-the-Parks. The program, funded by the Ohio Arts Council, brought the Green Parks Project to 18 state park venues. During the summers of 1973 and 1974, the group performed to more than 21,000 Ohioans in state parks alone.
The original AGPP album has been updated and re-released on CD with previously unreleased tracks. Copies are available online at www.ovst.org and at ARTS/West during the reunion Green Parks performances.
The OVST Appalachian Green Parks Project & Friends performances will include original cast members Bruce and Gay Dalzell, Charlie and Celia Lewis, Jim McGaw, Matthew Griffin and Connie Winters. They will be joined on stage by Harlan Dalzell (son of Bruce and Gay), Terry Douds, Jim Prouty and Jerry Rockwell.
The summer run of AGPP & Friends begins this Friday and continues through July 7. Evening performances begin at 8 p.m this Friday and Saturday and July 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7. Family matinee performances will begin at 3 p.m. this Sunday, July 1, and Wednesday, July 4, where one child is admitted free with each paid adult. For tickets call 593-9696 or buy your tickets online at www.ovst.org. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door one hour prior to each performance.
The Ohio Valley Summer Theatre has been bringing quality theatre to southeast Ohio since 1951. For more information on OVST and its upcoming performances of "Wait Until Dark," "The Music Man" and "Huck Finn's Story," visit www.ovst.org.??