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Pageant organizers rewrite history for Old Home Week play

July 23, 2010|By DANA BROWN
  • Old Home Week Pageant co-chairs Sharon Baumbaugh, left, and Dody Clever watch rehearsal of a scene from the historical play they co-wrote for the Greencastle-Antrim Old Home Week triennial celebration
Dana Brown, Staff Writer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- In between sharing coffee and laughter, Sharon Baumbaugh and Dody Clever spent hours sifting through Greencastle-Antrim's past to develop an eight-scene historical play "Those Were the Days" for the community's upcoming triennial celebration.

The hard part, the duo agree, is deciding what to leave out.

"There is so much history in this area you could write forever," Clever said.

The Old Home Week Pageant features 150 community members -- from age 4 to their 70s -- who either direct or act in scenes, sing in the chorus, play in the band, or work back stage to bring the two-hour production to life for a usually packed house, Clever said.

"Oh my word, we have a lot of big talent in our little town," she said.

It is best to get a seat early on the nights of the performances, Clever added, or you might not get one at all.

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The pageant is a sort of living history book. This year's production will span the years of 1863 to 2009.

For the past three years, Baumbaugh and Clever have done their research, scouring old newspapers, and haunting the library to develop this year's pageant scenes.

But nothing, they agree, compares to the stories people tell them directly.

"When you find somebody you can interview it's marvelous," Clever said.

The personal experiences are invaluable, she said. "You can't read that."

Baumbaugh said people in the community share freely with them.

"Dody knows everybody who lives here and they tell her things," Baumbaugh said. "People tell us all kinds of stuff."

While they admit they take liberties with the dialogue they write, they are true to the facts when it comes to everything else.

"We don't think up stuff like that," Clever said. "It actually happened. That's history."

"People can really learn things," Clever said. "Things that everybody in the community can be proud of."

And things that can make them laugh.

The pair has carefully mixed the serious with the humorous.

But it is the cast and crew, Baumbaugh said, that might be having the most fun.

"If people in the audience knew how much fun we're having, there wouldn't be anybody in the audience. They'd all be back stage with us," Baumbaugh said.

Eric Bowman, 18, is acting in his first pageant this year. He said it was an opportunity he couldn't turn down.

"It's neat because you see the history of how things were back before now," Bowman said.

Sallianne Crawford, 17, said she has learned about her community through the pageant and has also gained more appreciation for it.

"I don't know of any other community that does this," she said.

Ken Allen is performing in his third Old Home Week pageant. He said he values "the sense of community, the sense of being American," that he has gained from the experience.

"This is America at its finest," he said.




If you go ...



What: Greencastle Old Home Week Pageant - "Those Were the Days"

When: Tuesday, Aug. 3 and Wednesday, Aug. 4

Where: Greencastle-Antrim High School Auditorium, 300 S. Ridge Ave., Greencastle, Pa.

Time: 7:30 p.m. Band overture begins at 6:45 p.m.

Admission: Old Home Week badge (available at door)

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