History may not repeat itself on the Norfolk Southern tracks tonight in Morrow, but it is worth noting that the opening of the Clayton State Theatre’s spring 2012 production does coincide with the 150th anniversary of The Great Locomotive Chase.
History buffs, fans of the local theater, and those who follow the career of Clayton State Theatre Director Phillip DePoy will recall DePoy’s notable 2010 play, “Stealing Dixie,” performed at Marietta’s late, lamented Theatre in the Square, and based on the Civil War’s fabled Great Locomotive Chase from Marietta to Ringgold, Ga. It just so happens that today, Apr. 12, 2012, is the 150th anniversary of the Great Locomotive Chase, and the opening night of the Clayton State Assistant Professor of Theatre Shontelle Thrash-produced “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.”
While the University’s theatre majors will be exploring love and relationships and the cumbersome situations that befall individuals as they move toward marriage, historians are remembering an event unique in American history… the ill-fated Union soldiers, led by civilian James Andrews (all of whom, were eventually executed), who planned and executed the theft of the Confederate train The General in an effort to end the Civil War without violence. As history records, The General’s Confederate engineer pursued them (at times on foot) throughout Apr. 12, 1862 until their capture north of Ringgold.
Such drama is unlikely at opening night for the spring production of the Clayton State Theatre, although the musical may or may not have a happier ending than the Great Locomotive Chase, depending on for whom you’re rooting. Either way, the 7:30 p.m., opening night performance will also include a talk back between the audience and the cast members immediately following the production. Show dates for “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” will continue on Friday, Apr. 13 and Saturday, Apr. 14, and concluding dates are Thursday, Apr. 19 and Friday Apr. 20, again at 7:30 p.m. There will be a second talk back session on Thursday Apr. 19, following that production as well.
All productions of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” will be held in the Clayton State Theater, room 132 of the University’s Arts & Sciences Building. Admission is free to all Clayton State students and only $5 for non-students.
While DePoy predicts success for Thrash’s production, he admits there is a certain irony to the history of “Stealing Dixie.” It’s in the fact that, while “Stealing Dixie” did really well at the Theatre in the Square, the theatre also closed a year later, “proving that we don't let people steal our trains, but we do let our art die,” he suggests.