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Bring a picnic to theater performance at Lanier's shore
'Half Mile Down' features history romance, music
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Benny Higgins, Kate Immel, Jackie Mileson, Peyton Bolling, Brianna Roberson, Stavis Sexton, Jake Miller, Joshua Wade and Brian Ritchie. - photo by J.K. Devine

‘Half Mile Down’
When: 7:30 p.m. through Aug. 16
Where: Lake Lanier Olympic Venue, 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville.
Cost: $10 adults and $5 children
More info: wildairplayhouse.com or 404-723-3757

A rollicking folk drama with Bluegrass music and a bit of romance will appear on the banks of Lake Lanier this week.

“Half Mile Down,” returns for its second production at Lake Lanier Olympic Venue at Clarks Bridge Park in Gainesville. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4-16. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children.

The 100-minute live-theater show will be presented in a Chastain Park-style with patrons encouraged to bring picnics and arrive early for an interactive theater experience.

Written by local playwrights Rob Brooksher and Christina Jundt, “Half Mile Down” tells the story of a fictitious North Georgia town about to be flooded by a power company to create a lake. Set against the backdrop of Lake Lanier, the show is a story of romance, family and hope.

“The theme of this show is initially the town is not happy about some big electric company coming and having to relocate because they have a really strong town culture,” Jundt said. “But one of the themes is that your home is based on the people that you’re with and not necessarily where you’re located.”

Gainesville also has similar ties to the show, especially since Lake Lanier was made by flooding the area.

“Rob and I, we know people who gave their houses up during that time,” Jundt said. “It’s funny because we all (like) Lake Lanier, but it’s interesting to know that there are still some pieces of the town that are underneath the water.”

Set in the 1920s, the show is a folk tale peppered with music. The music, some written by Brooksher, accompanies the emotions and provides texture to the outdoor drama.

Suitable for all ages, this family drama debuted at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue last summer for three nights.

“Last year it was great, we had about 1,000 people come out in three nights,” Jundt said. “We thought maybe we’d have 50 people come out a night. We got a lot of feedback that it was the kind of show people would want to see every year.”

The play began as a senior thesis for Brooksher, who recently graduated from the University of North Georgia. He and Jundt formed Wild Air Playhouse, a professional theater in North Georgia that offers workshops and camps for young people. “Half Mile Down” is the organization’s flagship show. The duo hopes it will become a summer staple.

“Our hope next year is to do ‘Half Mile Down’ again and add a one or two shows…” Jundt said.

Producing a play in the open air on the shores of a lake is a bonus.

“With theater there can be the conception that it’s really stuffy and that not everyone is welcome,” Jundt said. “The atmosphere we’re trying to create is ... there’s cornhole when you get here, there’s a beer truck and you can bring your own food in and skip rocks on the lake. And then you get to see a really powerful story being told and that’s what’s gonna bring people together and keep people coming out to the theater with their whole family.”

And the two playwrites use the setting to its best advantage.

“In the final scene, people walk out into the lake; they’re throwing stones into the lake,” she said. “It’s a really immersive experience that you don’t always get sitting inside an indoor theater.”

For information and to purchase tickets, visit WildAirPlayhouse.com or call 404-723-3757.

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