‘Storming Heaven’ Underway at WVU Creative Arts Center

Musical brings to life the  history of the West Virginia Coal Wars

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Following a sold-out staged reading in January, “Storming Heaven: The Musical” has returned to Morgantown for its fully-staged world premiere. The production is presented by West Virginia Public Theatre, recently voted West Virginia’s Theatre of the Year in the 2018 BroadwayWorld Regional Award.

The play is running from June 6-9 and 11-16 at the WVU Creative Arts Center.

Based on the award-winning novel by Denise Giardina, “Storming Heaven” was adapted for the stage by Katy Blake and Peter Davenport (book, music, and lyrics), with additional music and lyrics by country star Tracy Lawrence and Flip Anderson.

“Storming Heaven” takes place in and around a West Virginia mining town in the early 20th century, providing fictionalized – but emotionally truthful – accounts of life under the coal companies, The Battle of Blair Mountain, and the rise of the United Mine Workers of America. The novel received numerous awards, including the 1987 W.D. Weatherford Award for the best published work about the Appalachian South, and is regularly used in curriculums in schools throughout West Virginia and the nation.

“I have been thrilled to see ‘Storming Heaven’ come to life on the stage,” says author Denise Giardina. “I am especially gratified that the writers and composers understand the themes at the heart of the novel, and also have shown great respect and appreciation for Appalachian culture.”

A tale deeply rooted in the history of Appalachia, “Storming Heaven” centers on Carrie Bishop (played by Alison McCartan), the mine doctor’s nurse and sister of the mine superintendent, who finds herself unwittingly in the middle of a love triangle with Albion Freeman (played by Luke Halferty), her husband and preacher to the miners, and Rondal Lloyd (played by Rick Mugrage), a charismatic Union organizer. Carrie’s journey of self-discovery – a woman at the turn of the 20th  century struggling to find her own identity and power – parallels the miners’ struggle for basic human rights.

All performances are taking place in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre (WVU Creative Arts Center), with a start time of 7:30 p.m, EXCEPT for Sunday performances, which begin at 2:00 p.m. There are also additional 2:00 p.m. matinees (as well as regular 7:30 p.m. evening performances) on Saturday, June 8 and Saturday, June 15.

The run time is around two hours, including one intermission. “Storming Heaven” is recommended for ages 12 and up due to mild language and violence. Tickets are $25, with discounted tickets ($15) available for children 17 and under and for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available for purchase online through Ticketmaster, by calling 293-SHOW, or at the CAC or Mountainlair box offices.

For more information, please visit their website or find them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@wvpublictheatre | #WVPT2019).

Courtesy Submission. Photo credit: Jerry McGonigle. Top photo: From left to right, Rick Mugrage as Rondal Lloyd, Luke Halferty as Albion Freeman, and Alison McCartan as Carrie Bishop. Bottom photo, Halferty and McCartan.

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