By Nate Smith
Washington Times Herald
A hundred years ago this week, one of the worst natural disasters to hit Washington occurred with the Blue Hole tragedy.
To honor the tragedy, and a former member, the Veale Creek Theatre will stage the adaptation of "The Legend of the Blue Hole" in April.
The play is an adaptation of the book written by local author Roy Wachter and the first time it will be on the stage.
Wachter, who wrote the book a few years ago, said it has been an almost "out of body experience" seeing his work on the stage.
On March 27, 1913, four railroad workers and two other men were injured when a trestle over a washout called the Blue Hole during the great flood of 1913. During the flood, the city of Washington was cut off from everyone, surrounded by floodwaters.
Director Dean Dorrell said he is directing the play in memory of his late wife, Karen. She had wanted to direct the production.
"When that happened I assured her before she passed and I assured Roy that the play would be put on," Dorrell said. "It is a tribute to my wife." Wachter said it was Karen who encouraged him to write his first one-act play, "Zodiac Summer." She also encouraged the writer to work on the Blue Hole.
"It is real appropriate it is in memory of her," Wachter said.
But while the story is about a train accident and a flood, what ties it together is a love story.
"At any play that is a historical play, there are more words than action and that makes it interesting to make it move," Dorrell said. "It's got to be something fairly simple that we can stage on a 12 by 24-foot stage." The love story between a female newspaper editor, played by Chrissy Kratochvil, and Thomas, a traveling gentlemen, portrayed by Jorrin Noland, is what the audience will see at first.
"He sort of made this event into this story," Dorrell said. "We've got some good people in this and they are well motivated to put on a good show." In fact, if one has not read the book, they are not going to know how the story ends.
³Because of the love story, you don't know what is going to happen in the end," Dorrell said.
Wachter in fact had to create a new character for the play. The love story is the first act of the play, while the train accident comes later. For the book and the play, he used accounts given in Rex Myers' "History of Daviess County." Other cast members include: Dan Sherar, Luke Sherar, John Mulrony, Barbara Fyffe, Tom Tucker, Jim Simpson, Nathan Gabhart, Madison Petty, Jaydon Jones, Wayne Acton, Vince Sellers, Mike Owens, Leonard Counsel, Luke Dayton, Rebecca Jones and Jill Mann.
Many of the cast members are first-time actors on the Veale Creek stage.
"I know a lot of us involved in the play are having a lot of fun," Dorrell said.
He said having Wachter there for rehearsals has been great because it has made the play better. The cast has been rehearsing four evenings a week.
"Doing a world premiere show and having the author there is a unique thing," Dorrell said. "Because normally when we get a script, we expect to follow it word for word as much as we can. It's nice to have the author there to make changes to make the show flow.² Wachter said he has enjoyed watching Dorrell work.
"One of the things I notice is his experience with blocking and the scene comes alive," Wachter said. "I've just written the dialogue." The play is scheduled for April 4, 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m., and April 7 at 2 p.m. at the theater on SR 57 S. Tickets are available at Hibbett¹s Sports at Cherry Tree Plaza.