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Theater version of ‘Marching Through Culpeper’ will benefit causes



Culpeper author Virginia Morton, aided by several local historical and cultural groups, is bringing her novel, “Marching Through Culpeper,” to the stage.

The nonprofit effort is designed to promote tourism and raise funds for battlefield preservation in Culpeper, Morton says.

Five performances of the stage play, which Morton also wrote, are scheduled for the first two weekends in August, to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Mountain.

The play revolves around Constance Armstrong, a Culpeper girl in her late teens. Armstrong, a loyal Southerner, takes in a wounded Federal officer and soon finds herself falling for the New Englander.

“This is love across battle lines but the story is designed to appeal to a broader audience than just those who are interested in the Civil War,” Morton says.

Morton’s backers include the Friends of the Cedar Mountain Battlefield, the Brandy Station Foundation, the Germanna Colonies Foundation, Stage Works and the State Theater Foundation. She will hold auditions for the play’s four major characters beginning March 4.

Those characters include:

Armstrong, “a white strong-willed Culpeper native,” in her late teens.

 Aaron James, a “ruggedly handsome” Union officer in his mid-to-late 20s.

 Frank Stringfellow, a wiry Confederate scout in his mid-to-late 20s who provides comic relief.

 Sadie Jordan, a “loyal Armstrong family servant.”

While Morton stops short of calling her production a musical, she does emphasize that those who play the Armstrong, James and Stringfellow characters must be able to sing.

“This is a stage production with music,” she says.

At least part of that music will consist of original songs written especially for this play by Rod Stone, a Washington state songwriter. Two of those songs are scheduled to be recorded in Nashville, Tenn., and released nationally.

While plans now are for the production to run only two weekends in the summer, Morton doesn’t discount the possibility that the uniquely Culpeper drama might eventually be presented on a regular basis when the renovated State Theater reopens next year.

This summer, the play will be presented at the Eastern View High School auditorium, with evening performances on Aug. 3, 4, 5, 10 and 11. It will be directed by Tim and Johncie cqCarlson.

Main character auditions will be held from 2–4 p.m. Sunday, March 4, and Sunday, March 11;  and from 6:30–8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, at Culpeper United Methodist Church.

Auditions for other characters will be held at a later date.

For more information, go to marchingthroughcul or call publicity chairwoman Melanie Chambers at 540/547-9221.

Donnie Johnston: