One more short week of intensive rehearsals before the curtain rises Friday, June 26 for the summer production of “Liberty Mountain,” the Revolutionary War drama, at the Joy Performance Center in Kings Mountain.
For the first several days of rehearsals, director Caleb Sigmon and the cast worked on individual scenes, and then they began to put scenes together into the two acts that make up the play. Many of the scenes involve combat, and that requires intricate choreography to make sure the action flows seamlessly and – even more importantly – that safety comes first. The drama culminates in the savage hand-to-hand battle between Patriots and Loyalists on Kings Mountain in October, 1780, which turned the tide of the American Revolution.
The cast is an excellent mixture of professional and amateur actors, several of whom were involved in the premier production of “Liberty Mountain” last October. And some of those are in different roles than they were in the original. Today, I’d like to introduce you to two of the cast members who represent a contrast in the makeup of the play.
Mary Grace Keller brings superb theatre credentials and a wealth of experience to “Liberty Mountain.” A 2003 graduate of Kings Mountain High School, she studied drama at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts and Aldelphi University, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Performing Arts. For a year after college she toured with a children’s theatre production in Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota, then spent another three years in theatre and film in New York and California.
Mary Grace came home to Kings Mountain in 2009 to join her father, Darrell Keller, in his public accounting firm, where she is now a partner. While working in the firm, she obtained a Master’s Degree and her accounting license, which left no time for theatre work. But she returned to the stage in the October premier of “Liberty Mountain.” “It gave me the bug again,” she says.
Mary Grace plays the role of Priscilla Martin, whose family fled Northern Ireland to settle in the Carolina backcountry and became embroiled in the struggle for American liberty. Frontier women like Priscilla played a pivotal role, supplying the Patriot militia with food, arms and gunpowder, and guarding their homes while the men were away.
Adam Phillips is one of the youngest members of the cast, a 9-year-old who will be a fourth grader this Fall at West Elementary School in Kings Mountain. The premier of “Liberty Mountain” last October was his first stage experience. In our summer production, he takes on the important role of Caleb Martin, Priscilla’s younger son. “He’s brave because he wants to go to war,” Adam says. Adam has memorized his lines of dialogue by practicing them every day, and in rehearsals, he’s learning the stage movements that are important in portraying his character.
Mary Grace and Adam bring enthusiasm and energy to their roles, as well as their fine talent. With only three weeks to rehearse the play before opening night, they and the other cast members work hard and stay focused on their acting. They will bring the gripping drama to life in a way that will entertain and inspire the whole family. And they sure do want to see you at one of their performances.
“Liberty Mountain” runs for four weekends in June and July with Friday evening, Saturday matinee, Saturday evening, and Sunday matinee performances. All performances are at the Joy Performance Center in downtown Kings Mountain.