Union County

‘Sassafras Cannon’ satire to hit Waxhaw, UNCC stages

The cast of “Sassafras Cannon” relaxes during a rehearsal at The Museum of the Waxhaws. The play will be presented at the museum on March 28. The cast includes Camarin Chargualaf, Jasper Boykin, Hoke Pittman, Jessica Boyles and Shawn Jones.
The cast of “Sassafras Cannon” relaxes during a rehearsal at The Museum of the Waxhaws. The play will be presented at the museum on March 28. The cast includes Camarin Chargualaf, Jasper Boykin, Hoke Pittman, Jessica Boyles and Shawn Jones. COURTESY OF TIMOTHY STARNES

Drama returns to the Museum of the Waxhaws.

At 7 p.m. on March 28, you can see the first-time production of “Sassafras Cannon,” a dark comedy written by playwright Timothy Starnes that is set during the Civil War.

In the first hour, guests can enjoy refreshments and explore the museum. The show will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.

This production joins a long list of Waxhaw performances involving local writers and actors.

There have been 32 seasons of “Listen and Remember,” which was written by a Waxhaw teacher; several seasons of productions at Waxhaw Storefront Theatre, founded by local playwright Judy Simpson Cook; and visits from many historical figures who were brought to life during the museum’s “Listen and Learn” and “Living History” series.

Starnes was born and raised in Waxhaw and is a 2012 graduate from Parkwood High School. As a junior at UNC Charlotte, he is majoring in English and political science, with a minor in history.

Starnes had his first short play published at age 19, a comedy on political murder. That play has made its way into other publishing houses, he said. Currently, he has five published plays.

In “Sassafras Cannon,” Starnes penned a Civil War period comedy that he says satirizes the follies of human nature.

“The play, like many of my other script ideas, simply came to me one day out of the blue,” Starnes said. “I wanted to do a comedy on some sort of Willy Wonka-esque character and his especially eclectic family set during the Civil War, which would appeal to young adults and adults.

“Many of the details in the show were inspired by real-life facts found during my prewriting research. However, the play is not a documentary or historically accurate, following my motto that people – when attending an event such as a play – are seeking to be entertained rather than taught.”

Audiences are advised to bring a sense of humor, and parental guidance is suggested.

In Starnes’ play, there is no “fourth wall” between the audience and the storyline. The playwright said attendees “become part of the storyline” in the Museum of the Waxhaws’ auditorium.

The collaboration that ultimately resulted in the production of “Sassafras Cannon” began last summer, when Starnes served as an intern at the museum.

The cast comes from all over North Carolina and includes actors with international, film and television credits. Costume designer Beth Killion is a native; she attended high school at Union Academy.

“Sassafras Cannon” will be the last production led by student director Ryan Fay before he leaves for a directing study program in Massachusetts.

The production will also play in McKnight Hall at UNC Charlotte on March 29, Starnes said. That show begins at 7 p.m.

“It is a one-night-only special production being sponsored by the Robinson Hall Players, UNCC’s only student acting troupe, and is also-student run,” Starnes said. “They have been an invaluable resource in putting this production together.”

John Anderson is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for John? Email him at jafortrel@aol.com.

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