France returns to role after 20 years
While Bill France was still in high school, a local resident, Rass Spears, who had appeared in several Aracoma Story productions, asked him to audition for the role of Boling Baker in the local historical drama. That summer, he got the role and the title of the youngest person to ever portray Boling. He would return several more times as the British soldier who falls in love with Princess Aracoma.
He had directed and co-wrote an updated version of the Aracoma Story called “Spirits and Legends” for three consecutive years. It was just time to let someone lay hands on the show. The popularity of the decades old show is that it’s re-invented every year by a new cast and a new director with a new vision. “I attended last year’s production directed by Bruce Baisden. I enjoyed the show and the things Bruce had done with it. However, in my mind I had officially retired from all things Aracoma.”
Flash forward to a warm Saturday this summer, France was bringing his son, Jacob, home from soccer practice. Out of the blue he says, “I want to be in the Aracoma Story”.
France told him to talk to his mommy. She said, “If he wants to do it, you need to take him”.
“I knew that didn’t mean to auditions,” France replied, “I knew she meant this is your world. You take care of this.”
Jacob has been obsessed with the show when his father first started directing it in 2009. He would play the DVDs and act out the fight scenes. He even knew most of the lines.
When the pair arrived at Logan High School, France figured if he was going to be there with his son for a couple months that he too should audition.
“I told Bruce that I would do anything he wanted me to do. If he needed me onstage, fine. If he needed me backstage, I would help him there,” said France.
When the cast list was announced, France was happy that Jacob got the role of Peter, one of the settler kids, he also now playing Waulalisippi, Boling’s son. France said he was a little shocked that he would be playing Boling Baker in the second act of the production. Jake McCoy of Man, who played Boling last summer, would be playing him in the first act.
Who says you can’t go home? Over 20 years later, France said he was ordering knee high moccasins and re-learning those same lines. “I am honored and humbled that Bruce had faith in me to do this.”
The Aracoma Story will be presented July 23-August 4 at Chief Logan State Park in the Liz Spurlock Amphitheater. All shows begin at 8:30.
The Aracoma Story will run Tuesday-Saturday until August 4. Showtime is 8:30 pm at Chief Logan State Park. Tickets can be purchased in advance at The UPS Store in Logan, Aracoma Drug in Chapmanville, and Pic Pac Supermarket at Man. For ticket information or show information, call 304-752-0253.
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