Cherry Orchard Theatre


Outdoor theatre is a tradition in our part of the world. Over the years North Carolina has boasted more outdoor theatre productions than any state in the country, ranging from famous ones like “The Lost Colony” and “Unto These Hills” to lesser known productions that are often of good quality.

Though we are in Virginia, we are only eight miles distant from this “mother” state of outdoor theatre. Inspired by the tradition in North Carolina — and by the 55-mile view of mountains and valleys from our cherry orchard outdoor ampitheatre site — since 1999 we have been offering a wide variety of theater experiences at The Cherry Orchard Theatre. Here we have performed dozens of plays, had numerous concerts and storytelling gatherings, and played host to some of the leading theatrical and musical talent in our region. Over the years many thousands of people have come, bearing lawn chairs and perhaps a picnic supper and a bottle of wine — no restrictions there! — to watch performances and to enjoy the coolness of the Blue Ridge Mountain evening and the spectacular view behind the stage.

Showtime is at 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Rain or shine, the show must go on — if it’s raining we move to our packhouse, a friendly confine for theatre that smells like the peaches we are selling there during theater season! Tickets are $10 and purchased at the door — reservations are accepted but not required, there is plenty of elbow room. Bring lawn chairs, food, and something to drink — then sit back on the cool grass, and enjoy the show! We will be doing live theater and more on Labor Day weekend, August 31st, September 1st, and 2nd.

Our lineup for the 2018 season features five summer shows at our spectacularly beautiful Cherry Orchard Theatre stage. All shows start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. No reservations required. For more info, call 276-755-3593 or 276-755-2224. We look forward to seeing you!

Summer 2018 Schedule


In the early 1800s our home county, Carroll County, Virginia was populated by many Quakers – in fact, Quaker settlers comprised nearly one-third of the total population. Yet by 1830, nearly all of the county’s Quakers were gone. What happened to them? A play told in letters written between a Quaker mother who left the county for Ohio, and her daughter who remained in Carroll, “The Distance Between Us” tells the story of who these early settlers were, and why they left the South. More than that, the play is a turbulent, yet tender love story between a mother and her estranged daughter, with a powerful theme: forgiveness. Performed previously in Hillsville, Virginia and Davidson, North Carolina, to delighted audiences, “The Distance Between Us” stars Terri Ingalls – a longtime leading lady of our stage – as the mother, Charity; and poet and actress Juliana Caldwell as Maiden, her daughter. It was written by Frank Levering, as a tribute to this Quaker heritage and in memory of his courageous Quaker parents, Miriam and Sam Levering.

August 10, 11, 12 – THE DEAD SPEAK, A PLAY

Just over one hundred years ago, poet Edgar Lee Masters published one of the most influential volumes of American poetry ever written – SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY. It’s a book of poems from the dead; from a Midwestern cemetery, Spoon River, Illinois. Today these poems are perhaps best known in a theater adaptation of the same name, an experience that aims to capture the melancholy power of the original poems themselves.

As a tribute to the power of the spoken word, and to the original Masters vision, THE DEAD SPEAK brings together more than twenty speakers from Carroll County, Virginia cemeteries. An eerie chorus of the dead, the play spans two hundred years of rich and startling history in one small place on earth. Come join us (the living and the dead) for a truly unique evening, in which a blazing campfire will illuminate the past and present – and on stage, the faces of the dead!


Who are we? In an age of social upheaval and racial tension, how much does our racial identity, our local and family history, our spiritual heritage, our endangered sense of home and place tell us about ourselves? Where are we now, and where do we need to go, in a dark and dangerous time in American history?

In three uncensored evenings of stories, music, conversation, and live performance, we explore all these questions on our mountain. Please join us with the gift of yourself, both body and soul. If you would like to “go tell it on the mountain,” we’d like to hear from you as well.


Another World Premiere performance at Cherry Orchard Theatre, “Flights of Imagination” is a trip back in time – a time when flying was a pleasure and passengers and crew were friends. Terri Ingalls was part of that fun-filled life and shares it with us in this one-woman show. From 1966 through 1969, she was a flight attendant with Piedmont Airlines – the small but now legendary carrier that was absorbed by US Air in 1989. Pilots, passengers, emergency landings, Saint Bernard puppies, proposals of marriage, and a touch of airline history are all woven together with skill and laughter. She reminds us that flying used to be fun – especially if you were you young and it was the 1960s.

“Flights of Imagination ‘ is a landmark tribute to one of our region’s greatest sources of pride – a homegrown airline that was wildly successful and helped usher in an era of economic progress in North Carolina. And, as a tribute to the Piedmont flying experience, we will be doing everything we can to simulate the flight experience for the audience! Just how will we do that?
You’ll have to come to the show to find out!

Storyteller, playwright, actor, tour guide and more, Terri Ingalls is one the great treasures of this area. If you’ve ever seen Terri perform, you know exactly what we mean. And if you haven ‘ t, you are in for a real discovery! An evening with Terri is always an evening full of magic and delight. Last boarding call before the doors close – DO NOT MISS THIS PLANE! Then sit back, have a glass of wine, and enjoy the flight!

August 31, September 1 & 2 – We will be doing staged readings of one-act plays each night. Join us!

Saturday, September 8 – THE FIDDLER’S DAUGHTER


In the culture of southern Appalachia, even today few men or women are held in as high esteem as a master fiddle player or maker. To make that venerable instrument sing is a gift reserved for the gods – and only a few of us mortals. In honor of the instrument and the music its bow draws forth, Fiddlers Conventions abound in our region, where fiddlers and other musicians celebrate life, love, and a grand tradition reaching back many centuries.

It’s in this context that we present this play, written by Frank Levering. telling the story of a master fiddler and his estranged daughter, who he has not seen for many years. What has happened between them? Why does the fiddler’s daughter. making her own way in the world with a very different idea of what is important from that of her father, appear suddenly at his door? What will become of them both – he an aging, forlorn widower, intent on making the perfect fiddle; she a wayward daughter, home to the place where they have to take you in.

Or maybe they don’t. Please join us for this premiere play, featuring Stu Shenk, a veteran actor (he plays Sidna Allen in “Thunder in the Hills,” among many other credits). and a master fiddler himself, from the Galax, Virginia area; and Rose Warshawna, one of the brightest young lights of our region’s stages.
Find out for yourself what it can mean to make music. lose or find your way, love or hate your life and the family you still have. A play with universal themes, “The Fiddlers Daughter” features live music, live human beings, and the living history and culture of this part of the world. Don’t miss this one.

Date: TBA — Courthouse Productions and Cherry Orchard Theater present , GEORGE L. CARTER, THE MAN, a one-man play by Shelby Inscore-Puckett and Frank Levering with Bill Hamlin as George L. Carter. Dinner theater fomat at Hale-Wilkinson-Carter Home in Hillsville, VA. Seating limited. Contact Shelby Inscore-Puckett at

And, finally: As the fall weather comes in, there may well be other Cherry Orchard Theatre and Courthouse Productions shows at the historic courthouse in Hillsville, Virginia. Please call or email us for more information.

In addition, Cherry Orchard Theatre and Courthouse Productions will be presenting – for its fourth season – the huge hit play, “Thunder in the Hills,” based on the Hillsville Courthouse Tragedy of 1912. Already seen by thousands of people, the play will be presented in the spring of 2019, and, as always, in the old courthouse in Hillsville where the shootout took place. Call or email us after November 1 for information on play tickets and dates.

Admission is only ten dollars. Bring a lawn chair and anything you would like to eat or drink.

For more information starting in July-, and any questions you may have, please call 276-755-3593. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can call the packhouse number — 276-755-3593 — and speak with Frank Levering.You can also often speak with Frank at 276-755-4722 (cell phone reception permitting), or email him at

We’ll see you on the mountain!

— Frank Levering

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