Visit Cherokee North Carolina

Tony • published July 9, 2010 12:15 am

The outdoor drama “Unto These Hills” is back on stage for the summer in Cherokee, but some may be wondering which version they will be seeing.

Not the Kermit Hunter original, which opened July 1, 1950, and ran for decades at Mountainside Theatre in Cherokee. Nor the dramatically different 2006 rewrite by Hanay Geiogamah, in which almost all of the past show was swept away except the title.

And there were major rewrites in 2007 and 2008. The current production is credited to Linda Squirrel.

“There are tiny tweaks; we have moved a scene or two around, but this is the same show as last year,” said John Tissue, director the Cherokee Historical Association, which produces the pageant.

“This is a beautiful Cherokee story, told by the only people who can accurately tell it: the Cherokee,” he said. “Most of the cast is Cherokee. The director (Eddie Swimmer) is a Cherokee. This is a real story, a personal story.”

At the heart of the piece is the Cherokee’s forced removal from the mountains along the notorious and deadly Trail of Tears.

“Unto These Hills” has pulled more than 6 million customers since opening. Attendance slipped to just less than 50,000 last summer, not like the glory years when maybe twice as many would attend in a year, but still a nice turnout for live theater. The drama remains “the face of Cherokee,” Tissue said.

“Back in the day, it was jobs, and it stimulated the economy, and it helped build the tourism industry here in Cherokee,” he said, “Now, it’s less about jobs and more about preserving the (Cherokee) culture.”

When the show opened in the summer of 1950, the entertainment world was a far different place. And so was Cherokee. Such radio shows as “Fibber McGee and Molly” and “Suspense” crackled over the airwaves. Television had yet to arrive in the mountains. And the idea of the Internet was like something out of a science fiction movie. Show business has greatly changed since then, and so has Cherokee, which today is home to the popular Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. Outdoor dramas, which were extremely popular in the 1950s and ’60s, can seem a bit dated, Tissue said.

The shaky economy has also brought box office challenges.

“Our typical patron is fairly blue-collar,” Tissue said. “And that is the economy that is hurting the worst.”

To encourage visitation, Tissue has offered a discount — anyone buying tickets before 5 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays get a $3 discount. The promotion will run for two more weekends, but Tissue is considering an extension.

“I don’t know that our competition is other attractions,” he said. “We compete directly with technology. You can get TV on your phone now.”

Asheville Citizen-Times

5 comments to Visit Cherokee North Carolina

  • cfnm videos

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  • Luke Groeschel

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  • Hello!I am checking your posts for many days now. I have to admit that it is very easy to read . It is added in my bookmarks and i will try to follow it when possible . Thanks for the nice posts . Furthermore, i honestly like your template and the way you have organised your categories/menus . Can i ask the name of your theme ? Cheers

    • BTraveler

      WordPress is a wonderful community and the theme for the NC Travel Guide . net early pages is Atahualpa 3.4.9 by BytesForAll
      Thank you for kind comments, we are still learning and planning some exciting changes in the near future. I hope we will grow to be a valuable and enjoyable resource you and all our readers.

  • Fascinating…and I agree pretty much with everything. Keep up the great work…I will definitely be back soon Bob Perry, Work New York, 65 Chambers Street, New York, NY 10007

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