Charlie Hughes, left, and Chris Curry perform in the 2017 Pocahontas County Drama Workshop production of “People on the Edge of Town.” Photo courtesy of Eric Fritzius

Bonnie Gifford
Contributing Writer

This is the first of a five part series about Pocahontas County Opera House PlayFest 2018, this year’s production by the Pocahontas County Drama Workshop.

The 10-minute play “Petting Zoo Story” depicts what happens when Melanie, an overzealous petting zoo employee, must contend with Dale, a germ-phobic patron with his own agenda.

The play was written by Jason Half, a graduate of Ohio University’s M.F.A. Playwriting program. His stage plays have had readings in Chicago, Illinois, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and performances in Maine, Ohio and Minnesota. He is the recipient of the 2010 Scott McPherson Playwriting Award and, as writer and director, his film “The Ballad of Faith Divine” won the Best Feature award at the 2009 Colony Film Festival. His one-act play “Locked Room Misery” has received productions at Marietta College and Washington State Community College in southern Ohio. Recently, two television scripts have been finalists in national screenwriting contests.

Half has taught film, theater, script writing, literature and composition courses at colleges in West Virginia and southern Ohio.

When asked about his inspiration for Petting Zoo Story, Half explained, “Its title is an homage to Edward Albee’s famous first play, ‘Zoo Story.’  The play looks at the need for people to connect with others in order to experience life at its fullest.”

Charlie MaGhee Hughes will play the role of Melanie.  Hughes has extensive experience in college and community theater productions, including: Sylvia in “The Women,” Natasha in “Rough Crossing,” Hermia in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Miranda in “The Tempest,” Joan of Arc in Chamber Music,” The Queen in “Alice in Wonderland,” Martha in Arsenic and Old Lace,” and Amanda in “The Glass Menagerie.” Most recently she appeared as Ruth in the 2017 Drama Workshop production of “The People at the Edge of Town,” by A.J. DeLauder,  and Millie McLanahan in “The Ghost of The Opera House.” In her everyday life Charlie is a teacher in the county, the AmeriCorps service member for the Opera House, and a poet.

The part of Dale will be performed by Chris Curry.  Curry appeared as an extra in the films “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Angel’s Perch” and had his Drama Workshop debut as the villain James Larrabee in the 2015 production of “Sherlock Holmes.”  

He continued with the Drama Workshop in the 2016 Opera House PlayFest, appearing as Reggie in “About the Baby” by T.K. Lee, and Dave in “Pumps” by Brett Hursey.  In 2017, he played the role of Nick in the full length play “The People at the Edge of Town.” Curry moved to Pocahontas County in 2008 and is currently the manager of Rite Aid in Marlinton.  

The Opera House PlayFest 2018 will include five other short plays, including comedy, drama and a mixture of both.  The festival will be performed at the Pocahontas County Opera House Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19, beginning at 8 p.m. each evening.

There will be a free preview performance on May 17 at 7 p.m.

Parents should be aware that some of the plays contain adult themes that may not be suitable for young children.

The Pocahontas County Drama Workshop is community theater supported by Dramas, Fairs and Festivals, Parks and Recreation and the Board of Education. Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door.