Saluda the Musical
The Saluda Historic Depot Theatre Troupe (SHDTT) produced its first play, “Saluda, the Musical” featuring the Young Acting Krew (YAK), which premiered on November 17, 2018. The ambitious production was a musical depiction of Saluda’s historical progression from the time the Cherokee Indians settled in the land of “green corn” until today.
The play was inspired by my involvement in the Saluda Historic Depot Museum and my attendance at a Board brain-storming session focused on how the Museum could contribute toward bringing back “Railroad Day” in Saluda. Many remembered when Saluda celebrated this “ole timey” day when townspeople dressed in costumes from the early-time era. I began concentrating on developing this idea into a theatrical event focused on Saluda’s heritage and railroad history by including SHDTT’s newly formed Young Acting Krew. It just seemed the right time to attempt a heritage play, but it was decided that it should be a lively one, with music and dancing.
Over an eight-month period, I wrote the original play in collaboration with the children of YAK, and was fortunate to enlist the aid of the supremely talented Dan Foster to create a musical score.
Dan Foster is a singer/songwriter based in Atlanta Georgia. His song, “Saluda Grade” was written by Dan after walking around Saluda before a local performance and noticing a historical marker describing the remarkable legendary Saluda Grade. In 2009 it was featured on an album by High Cotton that spent several weeks on the Georgia top 20 Roots music charts. Dan rearranged the song for the play with his current group, The Radio Rangers, in addition to new songs featuring acoustic music with strong vocal harmonies. Writing melodic songs that tell a good story is Dan’s passion.
He stated, “The history of Saluda is unique but shares a heritage with so many communities across our country. The railroads were the backbone of our country’s growth, and touched so many people and communities. I believe the wisdom to move forward is provided by the struggles of our past. I was honored to help in a small way to the SHDTT celebration of Saluda history. Saluda is a special place.”
In addition to YAK and the adult Bell Tower Players, there were many others involved in this community-wide production. Volunteers jumped in to give their talents and time to costume designing, building stage sets and props, to be extras, do makeup, plan sound and lighting, and video/filming, and for cameo roles depicting town historians and legends.
“Saluda, the Musical” was a “One Night Only” performance held at the Party Place & Event Center. Owners Bob and Linda Whitaker granted a special concession on the regular event price for the use of the facility as our fledgling troupe had limited funds and no theater in which to perform. That night, the Party Place was transformed into a theater and we had an audience of over 360 from our community. They sang along at the end and were delighted with the play, the music, and the performances. A CD and video of the play was produced by videographer, Bob Keeton, and is now on sale at the museum.
The Young Acting Krew has grown to over 20 children ranging in age from 3 to 15 and are about to appear in our latest production, “Abenezer Scrooge, A Ghostly Mountain Christmas Tale,” adapted from the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol.