LOGAN, W.Va. — This marks the 30th year The State Journal has compiled “55 Good Things About West Virginia,” a magazine showcasing people, places and traditions that make West Virginia a special place. The magazine features hidden treasures and iconic landmarks that are tucked throughout the state of West Virginia.
This year’s publication features The Liz Spurlock Amphitheater and The Aracoma Story Inc.
The article reads:
“The Liz Spurlock Amphitheatre
“By NANCY PEYTON
“For The State Journal
“The starlight dances in the sky. The actors take center stage. The scene springs to life. Those in attendance are transported to another time, another place, another lifetime.
“The Liz Spurlock Amphitheatre in Chief Logan State Park provides entertainment for citizens of Logan County each summer through The Aracoma Story Incorporated, the play that inspired the construction of the theater.
“The Aracoma Story was first performed in 1952 when the City of Logan commissioned Thomas McEvoy Patterson to write an original drama depicting the history of the Native American tribes that lived in the area. The Bicentennial Commission appointed Liz Spurlock and Pleasant Long to bring the story back to the stage in 1975. Two years later, the play was moved to its current home and the Chief Logan State Park Amphitheatre was born.
“Financial constraints threatened the production, so the people of Logan County pitched in to create the original theater. The original stage consisted of a dirt floor, railroad ties to make risers and a seating capacity of 350. The facility has come a long way since then, boasting a concrete stage floor, proper risers and seating for about 600 people.
“Bill France, member of The Aracoma Story Inc. Board of Directors, said there’s nothing like the outdoor theater experience.
““I’ve been to facilities, not only in the state but in surrounding states as well, and this is as nice a facility as you’ll find anywhere,” France said. “We’re lucky to have it as a home for our productions. There’s something different about outdoor theater. “I know a lot of people say, ‘Yeah, the rain,’ but there’s just something about being out here, having the stars light up the sky while doing a show. Just sitting out here as a group and watching it, you know, there’s just nothing like it.”
“In 1979, the theater began presenting musicals along with the yearly production of The Aracoma Story.
“Diana McCoy-O’Briant, president of The Aracoma Story Inc. Board of Directors, said the theater provides a place for families to be entertained.
““Especially this past summer for ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ I know I had at least five, if not 10, people who came up to me and said, ‘Thank you very much. My husband lost his job with the mines and we’re not going to be able to take a vacation, but this allowed us a place to come,’” she said. “Many people are not able to take those vacations this year, so this is kind of their little outlet, so I think in that respect we are able to help out the community.”
“France said the community support is just as important as the theater’s contribution to the community.
““A community, a business district that rallies behind you, gets behind you, is so important,” France said. “We’ve been at this so long; the organization has a solid name. People know us, they know the people in it, and they’ve either been to the shows or been in the shows. We are blessed to have the support that we’ve had.”
“In 2000, the theater was renamed the Liz Spurlock Amphitheatre in honor of Spurlock, who had dedicated more than 30 years of service to the production company. She passed away this year, and McCoy-O’Briant said the company strives every day to honor her memory.”
The Aracoma Story Inc. is currently in rehearsals for its fall production of the cult classic “Little Shop of Horrors” which is being produced at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. The musical will be presented Friday, Nov. 11th at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 12th at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 13th at 2 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 19th at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 20th at 2 p.m.
Tickets can now be purchased online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2585040.
The organization returns to the Liz Spurlock Amphitheater in the summer of 2017 as the organization produces “”Hairspray” and “Grease”.
For more on the “55 Good Things About West Virginia” visit www.statejournal.com.