Production to be June 23-25, 30, and July 1 at Pius X High School
LINCOLN – S.T.A.G.E. theatre will take on a fight for the faith this summer with their musical rendition of “The Outlaws of Ravenhurst” set for June 23-25, 30, and July 1. The production by both children and adults will be presented at Pius X High School, 6000 A St., in Lincoln.
Based on the book, “The Outlaws of Ravenhurst” the musical is set in Scotland. It tells the story of persecuted Catholics during the reign of Henry VIII and beyond, and depicts the struggle for religious freedom wrapped around Clan Gordon, and in particular, young George Gordon, played by Caden Leahy.
“The basic storyline is that the young earl is hidden in America as an infant by his Uncle Stephen, an outlawed priest,” said Lee Hotovy, S.T.A.G.E. founder, writer, and director. “George Gordon is raised as a Catholic and preserved from the dangers of his homeland, where his father rots in a dungeon, and his mother lives under a heavily guarded atmosphere. His evil uncle, Sir Roger, plots to find the boy and to mold him into the New Earl of Ravenhurst if he but denounces his faith."
The story is historical fiction and ties in to the basis of the Catholic faith in America led by Lord Baltimore and others, Hotovy said.
“I think ‘The Outlaws of Ravenhurst’ will impress audience members with the importance of the fight for the faith that took place long ago and has enabled all of us to worship as we do,” she continued. “I think it will give viewers an opportunity to reflect upon the strength and grace our forefathers must have had in order to persevere. This is one of the many stories that took place during a time when America was founded on freedom of religion. It is significant for today, for we are experiencing a threat to these freedoms and I think it is important to understand and appreciate how it all began.”
While Outlaws was originally written as a book for young readers, Hotovy and her S.T.A. G.E. team built the story into a musical. Over the past several months, the musical writers and directors created an original score for the production. All the music has been written and crafted with a soundtrack system.
Anna Hanselmann, S.T.A.G.E. musical director, who has worked on the theatre’s productions for more than 10 years, said this show is a standout not only for the music but also for the potential impact the story will have on audiences.
“I believe the audience will be informed by the history of the piece, and moved by the idea that throughout the ages and into today, people have fought and died for the faith,” she said.
“The music for ‘The Outlaws of Ravenhurst’ has definitely been a challenge for us to write, but it’s a good kind of challenge,” said Melanie Kottwitz, assistant musical director. “The themes and melodies have taken on a mind of their own and many of them weave throughout the show to symbolize moments of courage, faith, conviction, suffering, hope and redemption.”
Greg Florence is a new S.T.A.G.E. team member who took on the task of crafting several of the pieces with orchestral sounds on his computer program.
“It’s really an honor to put music to such an invigorating story,” he said. “My hope is that our audience will be drawn deep into the narrative through the beauty of the production and be moved by the characters whose courage and loyalty are beyond admirable.”
“The Outlaws of Ravenhurst” is performed by students and adults. A multi-level set depicts different time periods and locations in Scotland. Paul Baumgartner, along with parent volunteers, developed the set under Hotovy’s design.
Larry Kohmetscher and Adam Zastrow created lighting and special effects to enhance the moods and pace of the show, along with James Duchesneau on sound.
“There will also be a projection area on the set to show the dates and places of battles like the famous Flodden Field, which I think will be artistic and helpful to the audience,” remarked Kohmetscher.
Dance will also be a part of this musical, designed by S.T.A.G.E. choreographer Karrie Seeman and Hotovy.
“We are excited to implement dance into the storyline, simply because it adds another dimension of beauty to the show,” Hotovy said.
Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln noted that he read the book “The Outlaws of Ravenhurst” shortly after becoming Catholic as a young adult.
“I was immediately captivated by the story, and it inspired me to learn more about the persecutions of Catholics in England and Scotland during the Protestant Reformation,” he said. “The story of the outlawed priest in the story who has to live and hide in the ruins of the church, providing the sacraments to his people in secret, must have sowed the early seeds of my own vocation to the priesthood.
“Being a new Catholic at the time,” he continued, “it gave me a love for the Church and the way Catholics of every era would suffer and even make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives, to preserve the one true faith.”
The bishop also said he was looking forward to the production.
“I am grateful to all the people who labor so hard to produce these beautiful works of art,” he said. “I have always been impressed with S.T.A.G.E.’s productions over the years and I have never been disappointed by the quality and depth of the performances. I encourage everyone who can to come to the show.”
“The Outlaws of Ravenhurst” will be performed at 7 p.m. June 23, 24, and 30, and July 1, and at 2 p.m. June 25. Doors open 30 minutes before showtime.
Tickets for “The Outlaws of Ravenhurst” will go on sale June 9 through July 1 and will be available at Gloria Deo, 1265 S. Cotner Blvd., Ste. 29, in Lincoln.
Tickets will also be available at the door one hour before showtime. Tickets are $10 for adult and $8 for students; a family package for $48 will also be available.
Due to the length and seriousness of “The Outlaws of Ravenhurst,” it is recommended for children 7 and up.