Mary Draper Ingles Outdoor Drama Reunion

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Robyn Berg in the starring role of Mary Draper Ingles tries to reassure  Sophia McCroskey as Thomas Ingles and Laken Thompson as George Ingles after their capture by the Shawnee during the 2018 production of “Walk to Freedom: The Mary Draper Ingles Story.”

Steve Frey, Contributing Writer

Were you an actor or actress in either “The Long Way Home” or “Walk to Freedom: The Mary Draper Ingles Story” in the past? Well, The Long Way Home, Inc. Board of Directors wants to reconnect with you!

The Long Way Home outdoor drama in Radford had an extended run from 1971 until 1999, and Walk to Freedom: The Mary Draper Ingles Story is now in its third season. During all those years, thousands of different men, women and children participated as cast or crew. In fact, everywhere you go around Radford and the NRV, you will run into people who spent one or more seasons as a character in the production.

Walk to Freedom is a slightly more compact production, but both versions tell the compelling story of Mary Draper Ingles’ daring escape from Shawnee captivity to walk hundreds of miles back from the Ohio area to her New River Valley home on the Virginia frontier. Over the years, many different people have played Mary, Wild Horse, Bettie, Pierre Laval, the Dutch woman and all of the other characters, and they all have one thing in common: Mary Draper Ingles’ courageous story.

Radford resident Kathleen Harshberger played Mary Draper Ingles in eight different seasons. She is also one of the co-writers of the current version of the narrative, along with Wesley Young. Harshberger said recently, “Being part of The Long Way Home combined my love of theater and my ongoing interest in history. As an actress, I was honored to play Mary. It is a strong female role that portrays a genuine historical heroine.”

Harshberger’s acting experience, of course, is similar to that of many past participants.

This year, The Long Way Home Board of Directors is cordially inviting everyone who participated in past performances to an exclusive Meet and Greet/Reunion on July 14, the opening night for the drama, with the current cast and crew. The reception will take place immediately after the 6:30-7:45 p.m. performance at Sal’s Italian Restaurant, 709 West Main St. in Radford.

This will be a great chance to reacquaint with old friends and meet this year’s production staff, cast and crew. Light refreshments will be served for this celebration of camaraderie and homecoming.

Additionally, there will be a special reduced ticket price for all former cast and crew. Typically, seats are $20 for reserved seating or $15 for general admission with your own chair. Children under 12 are free unless they require reserved seating, which is $5.

For this special reunion night, former cast and crew will receive a 20 percent discount for prices of $16, $12, and $4 respectively. To obtain the reduced ticket price and sign up for the post-play Meet and Greet/Reunion, please RSVP at walktofreedommdi@gmail.com.

The Long Way Home board is hoping that many former play participants will help make July 14 a performance and a special reunion/reception to remember for all who share a special bond through Mary Draper Ingles’ enduring story.