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“The Home Front”: Roving Theater’s Final Production

By Staff | Jun 12, 2014

Workers at a local tannery, possibly the one that made Muncy Valley, PA, "the major town this side of Hughesville" in the early 20th century. 

This weekend the Roving Historical Theater winds up its cycle of eight plays celebrating the history, industries, humor and mayhem of Sullivan County, PA’s many local communities.

The near-decade trip has taken us from the founding of the county and Laporte in 1847 (with visits to Eagles Mere), through the early years of Hillsgrove, the commercial development of Dushore, the “northwest passage” of the Quakers to Fox and Elkland townships, the coal and baseball legacy of Mildred and Bernice, the floods and mills of Forksville and, last year, the lumbering years of Lopez and the ghost town of Ricketts.

This year’s closing entry covers Sonestown, Nordmont and Muncy Valley, following the at-home grit and determination of the area’s families during our country’s great wars.

The continuing story line follows the Little family of Nordmont during World War II, from the announcement of Pearl Harbor to VJ-Day and beyond, as husband Michael leaves to do battle in the Pacific, while his wife, Delia, manages the home, oversees her victory garden and reins in the vocal and often over-zealous patriotism of daughters Payton and Felice.

We also visit older war times, back to 1812 and reminiscences of the American Revolution; a group of women making clothing for their Civil War sons, husbands and brothers; and Ralph Grimes trying to comprehend his wife Blanche’s determination to be one of the first women to join our armed forces in 1917. And we follow Michael’s younger brother, Chris, as he is introduced to the realities of war in 1944 France.

As with all Roving Theater plays, “The Home Front” also examines the history of local industries:

Electricity comes to Muncy Valley in 1908, but it’s not enough to prevent “progress” from ringing the death knell for the town’s fading tannery.

Watch closely as Clyde attempts to wrest from Rollie an explanation of the working of the multi-fanged split-gang saw at the Sonestown clothespin factory in 1920.

Just a few years later, vacationers at the Sonestown train station, bound for Eagles Mere, make their way to the narrow-gauge train that will haul them up the mountain in open-air flatcars.

There’s humor throughout, nowhere more so than in the 1879 murder committed by the more-than-half-mad inebriate William Spearman, whose daughter spends weary hours hiding behind the outhouse after a judge lets the North Mountain killer roam free – with his pistol.

Everyone involved in the play – writers, actors and stage hands – are volunteer residents of Sullivan County or the immediately surrounding area. Working together over the years, they have formed a tight, disciplined, intergenerational acting company under artistic director Linda White.

Having reached the end of its planned journey, will the Roving Historical Theater now turn up its toes and die? By no means. 2015 is planned as a year of rest, to be followed by new and, as always, unique forays into the dramatic landscape. Stayed tuned for announcements over the coming months.

“The Home Front” will be presented June 13 and 15 at 7 pm, and June 14 at 2 pm, at Valley United Methodist Church, Rt. 220, Muncy Valley, PA. Tickets are $10 for adults, $1 for students through high school. Pre-school children are free.

The women of the Valley Methodist Church will be selling hot dogs and snacks before each performance, and the Roving Theater will provide light refreshments after the show. For more information, visit www.sullivanarts.org, email info@sullivanarts.org or phone 570-928-8927.