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MEET THE CAST AND TEAM OF OUR PREMIERE WVPT’19 PRODUCTION!

After the developmental reading in January 2019, this summer Storming Heaven: The Musical is having its first full stage production to kick off the West Virginia Public Theatre’s Summer 2019 season June 6 – 16, 2019!

See our cast here and purchase tickets!

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

 

When Katy Blake and Peter Davenport began their long collaboration five years ago, they set about to find a story that would give exposure and a voice to the historically marginalized people of West Virginia, upon whose backs the American coal industry was built. It was Katy’s strong desire to shed light on the lives of these coal miners and their families, as well as on the deep dark recesses of an industry that to this day treats its workers unfairly that guided their search.

While doing historical research, Katy came upon the novel, Storming Heaven, by Denise Giardina: a sweeping tale of intertwined lives, love and loss, actual historical coal industry events coupled with the start of the United Mine Workers of America. It was in Denise’s compelling work that Katy and Peter found the perfect material upon which to base their own story.

THE MUSICAL

Our story is about coal mining in Appalachia at the beginning of the 20th century and the struggles of the coal miners and their families. It centers on Carrie Bishop, the coal mine nurse, and a love triangle between her and her husband the mine preacher, and a Union organizer. During our story, Carrie discovers how to claim her power as a woman in a world and time when women, like minorities and immigrants, were second-class citizens and were told what to do and how to behave. It is set against the backdrop of the 1920’s Coal Wars of West Virginia where the disenfranchised workers - upon whose backs American industry and this country were built - struggle to fight for their basic human rights by unionizing. It culminates in the Battle of Blair Mountain between striking miners and mine owners, when President Warren G. Harding sent the National Guard to kill the Union’s efforts. It was the largest civil insurrection since the Civil War, and that lost battle successfully stopped United Mine Workers from fully forming for another decade.

 
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Demos

by Storming Heaven: The Musical
 

NEWS & UPDATES

 

world premiere of storming heaven: the musical

MAY 31, 2019

We are one week away from the world premiere of Storming Heaven: The Musical at the West Virginia Public Theatre and are beyond thrilled to see the show come to life. See our wonderful cast and team here and make sure to purchase tickets to the show!

CASTING UPDATE

MARCH 25, 2019

Our final auditions for the upcoming full production of the show, held in New York, Pittsburgh, and Morgantown, have concluded. Stay tuned for a casting announcement in the coming weeks! Tickets for the show will be on sale through the West Virginia Public Theatre website.

west virginia UNIVERSITY DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP

JANUARY 11, 2019

Storming Heaven: The Musical is having a staged reading in Morgantown, WV, thanks to a collaboration with the West Virginia Public Theatre. After a week-long workshop, the reading was held on Saturday, January 19, at the Gladys G. Davis Theatre (WVU Creative Arts Center).

SOSENKO GRANT

JUNE 19, 2018

We are thrilled to share that Storming Heaven: The Musical has been named recipient of The Anna Sosenko Assist Trust grant for the 2018 reading series at NYMF! To learn more about the organization's mission, click here.

More new songs

APRIL 2, 2018

Katy and Flip wrote a beautiful new song for Aunt Jane, "Goin' Home", in the traditional early Appalachian ballad style. Katy and Peter also expanded Miles and Doc Booker's argument about Capitalism vs Socialism in the song "A Company Man".

OFFICIAL SELECTION new york musical festival 2018

JAUNARY 31, 2018

Storming Heaven: The Musical has been selected for NYMF 2018! For the cast of the staged reading, please click here.

festival submissions

NOVEMBER 11, 2017

After reworking the book and with addition of new songs, Storming Heaven: The Musical has been submitted to several developmental organizations around the United States.

THANK YOU

FEBRUARY 3, 2017

We would like to extend heartfelt thanks to everyone who came to witness the first showing of Storming Heaven: The Musical at our Equity 29 Hour Reading. Stay tuned for updates on the next steps of development!

ADDITIONS TO THE TEAM

JANUARY 11, 2017

Rounding out the cast and musicians for the Equity 29 Hour Reading of Storming Heaven: The Musical, the show features John McDaniel (Piano/Conductor), Mark Hartman (Keyboard), and Brad Parker (Guitar/Banjo/Mandolin/Fiddle).

CASTING ANNOUNCED

DECEMBER 19, 2016

We are happy to share the list of incredible actors and friends who bring our story to life. The cast features Jane Blass, Jake Boyd, Cole Burden, Harley Jay, Jayme Lake, Kevin Mambo, Paul Anthony Stewart, Don Rey, Lizzy Brooks, Gisela Dubuisson, Clyde Voce, Kristi Holden, Kathryn Markey, Ed Romanoff, and Jake Smith.

29 HOUR READING 

DECEMBER 16, 2016

Rehearsals for our Equity 29 Hour Reading begin on January 7, 2017, with two readings scheduled for Thursday, January 12, at 12p and 4p at Playwrights Horizons Studios in New York.

 
 

PRESS


WKKW RADIO

JUNE 12, 2019





WAJR RADIO

JUNE 6, 2019





THE DOMINION POST

MAY 30, 2019


BROADWAY WORLD

APRIL 29, 2019


BROADWAY WORLD

APRIL 15, 2019




CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL

JANUARY 17, 2019





KATY BLAKE    BOOK/MUSIC  Katy Blake is primarily a performer and has toured the country as Eva in  Evita , Christine in  The Phantom of the Opera ,  Mamma Mia! , and  Whistle Down the Wind  (dir. Hal Prince). Off-Broadway she has performed at the York Theatre, Signature Theatre, and in various NYMF productions. She created the role of Pam in CATCO’s and Off-Broadway’s  The Last Smoker in America , and the role of Sirroco in the Pasadena Playhouse production of  Mask  (dir. Richard Maltby, Jr.). In Los Angeles, she was seen at the Hollywood Bowl in  South Pacific  with Reba McEntyre, and was directed by Jason Alexander in  Sunday in the Park With George  at Reprise! She also sings and writes country music.

KATY BLAKE

BOOK/MUSIC Katy Blake is primarily a performer and has toured the country as Eva in Evita, Christine in The Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia!, and Whistle Down the Wind (dir. Hal Prince). Off-Broadway she has performed at the York Theatre, Signature Theatre, and in various NYMF productions. She created the role of Pam in CATCO’s and Off-Broadway’s The Last Smoker in America, and the role of Sirroco in the Pasadena Playhouse production of Mask (dir. Richard Maltby, Jr.). In Los Angeles, she was seen at the Hollywood Bowl in South Pacific with Reba McEntyre, and was directed by Jason Alexander in Sunday in the Park With George at Reprise! She also sings and writes country music.

PETER DAVENPORT    BOOK/MUSIC  Peter Davenport is an IRNE nominated actor and award winning filmmaker of the short film,  A Family Dinner  which he took to the Courts Metrages at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012. He has performed in the National Tour of  The Sound Of Music  as Captain Georg von Trapp, in Regional theatres, and Off Broadway, including other readings and new works in development. He grew up attending the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario as a child, which he continues to this day with his own children. He studied Shakespeare and classical theatre at BADA in London while acquiring his BA and MFA in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College. His own singing can be heard on his debut solo album,  Clear Day  on LML Music, and on the cast recordings of Papermill Playhouse’s production of  Follies  and  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea .

PETER DAVENPORT

BOOK/MUSIC Peter Davenport is an IRNE nominated actor and award winning filmmaker of the short film, A Family Dinner which he took to the Courts Metrages at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012. He has performed in the National Tour of The Sound Of Music as Captain Georg von Trapp, in Regional theatres, and Off Broadway, including other readings and new works in development. He grew up attending the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario as a child, which he continues to this day with his own children. He studied Shakespeare and classical theatre at BADA in London while acquiring his BA and MFA in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College. His own singing can be heard on his debut solo album, Clear Day on LML Music, and on the cast recordings of Papermill Playhouse’s production of Follies and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

TRACY LAWRENCE    MUSIC  Tracy Lawrence is one of the most recognizable voices in country music with songs such as  Paint Me a Birmingham ,  Time Marches On ,  Alibis  and  Find Out Who Your Friends Are . He has enjoyed 22 songs on the Billboard Top Ten charts with 18 number one singles, selling over 13 million albums. The multi-platinum CMA and ACM award winning recording artist has helped shape the sound of country music for two decades, recently celebrating twenty years in music and inspiring a whole new generation of entertainers and fans.

TRACY LAWRENCE

MUSIC Tracy Lawrence is one of the most recognizable voices in country music with songs such as Paint Me a Birmingham, Time Marches On, Alibis and Find Out Who Your Friends Are. He has enjoyed 22 songs on the Billboard Top Ten charts with 18 number one singles, selling over 13 million albums. The multi-platinum CMA and ACM award winning recording artist has helped shape the sound of country music for two decades, recently celebrating twenty years in music and inspiring a whole new generation of entertainers and fans.

 
FLIP ANDERSON    MUSIC  Flip Anderson has worked with Tracy Lawrence for many years as a writer and producer on several of his albums. He has collaborated with other artists such as John Anderson, Rich McCready, and Kenny Hess, and also produced  Civil War: The Nashville Sessions  for Frank Wildhorn. He now lives mostly in Gatlinburg where he and his wife, Diane, own and run The Gallery at Gatlinburg featuring works by artists from the Smoky Mountains.

FLIP ANDERSON

MUSIC Flip Anderson has worked with Tracy Lawrence for many years as a writer and producer on several of his albums. He has collaborated with other artists such as John Anderson, Rich McCready, and Kenny Hess, and also produced Civil War: The Nashville Sessions for Frank Wildhorn. He now lives mostly in Gatlinburg where he and his wife, Diane, own and run The Gallery at Gatlinburg featuring works by artists from the Smoky Mountains.

DENISE GIARDINA    AUTHOR  Denise Giardina grew up in McDowell County, West Virginia. She received a BA in history from West Virginia Wesleyan College and a MDiv from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. She has written five novels:  Good King Harry  (Harper and Row, 1984),  Storming Heaven  (W.W. Norton, 1987),  The Unquiet Earth  (W.W. Norton, 1992),  Saints and Villains  (W.W. Norton, 1998), and  Emily's Ghost  (W.W. Norton, 2009).  Storming Heaven  was a Discovery selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, a New Voices selection of the Quality Paperback Book Club, and received the 1987 W.D. Weatherford Award for the best published work about the Appalachian South. Giardina's op-ed pieces have appeared in  The New York Times , the  Washington Post , the  Charleston (WV) Gazette , and the  Daily Mail . She was published in  The Nation ,  Southern Exposure ,  Emmy , and the  Village Voice . Giardina took part in the Appalachian Land Ownership Study in the early 1980s which documented that the region is dominated by absentee land ownership. She was arrested twice during the United Mine Workers' strike against the Piston Company in the late 1980s and ran for Governor of West Virginia in 2000 to protest the devastation of mountaintop removal coal mining.

DENISE GIARDINA

AUTHOR Denise Giardina grew up in McDowell County, West Virginia. She received a BA in history from West Virginia Wesleyan College and a MDiv from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. She has written five novels: Good King Harry (Harper and Row, 1984), Storming Heaven (W.W. Norton, 1987), The Unquiet Earth (W.W. Norton, 1992), Saints and Villains (W.W. Norton, 1998), and Emily's Ghost (W.W. Norton, 2009). Storming Heaven was a Discovery selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, a New Voices selection of the Quality Paperback Book Club, and received the 1987 W.D. Weatherford Award for the best published work about the Appalachian South. Giardina's op-ed pieces have appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Charleston (WV) Gazette, and the Daily Mail. She was published in The Nation, Southern Exposure, Emmy, and the Village Voice. Giardina took part in the Appalachian Land Ownership Study in the early 1980s which documented that the region is dominated by absentee land ownership. She was arrested twice during the United Mine Workers' strike against the Piston Company in the late 1980s and ran for Governor of West Virginia in 2000 to protest the devastation of mountaintop removal coal mining.