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Hundreds flock to see SKCTC-sponsored play "The Gatekeeper"

The Gatekeeper, written by Amy Simpson, associate professor of English at Southeast Kentucky Community amp; Technical College, debuted recently at the Middlesboro Central Arts Auditorium.

The Gatekeeper, directed by Middlesboro Little Theatre director Ken Maciula, an SKCTC professor, was a presentation of Middlesboros rich history in four acts. The play demonstrated, with modesty and masterful calculation, the two radical states of Middlesboros rich and colorful historyfocused mainly on an area divided by religion and unbounded debauchery. The sets were minimal, but pleasing to the eyeproviding a very comfortable feel.

In the first Act, Earthly Kings, the towns imbalance between faith and sin was displayed with great honesty and gritaccurately staging a glimpse into the era of the 1920s to the 1940s commonly referred to as the Little Las Vegas era of Middlesboros history.

Earthly Kings centered on local businessmen and brothers Floyd and Alva Ball, played by Paul Hutson and Mark Schelstrate, and explored Middlesboros incautious pasta time of self-indulgence and saloonscomplete with guns, prostitution, gambling and alcohol. Hudson and Schelstrate gave genuine performancessparked by moments of unbridled hilaritythat were true to the essence of theatre.

Earthly Kings incorporated religious viewpoints throughout many of the scenes, as welleffortlessly going back and forth between daily church services and nightly excursions of crime, lust and sin at the Wabash Hotel.

Clayton Maurer authentically played Dr. J. Archer Graya Presbyterian minister preaching against the sins of manand it was truly a believable performance. Maurers interpretation of Gray was as energetic realistic.

The second act entitled The Magic Citywhich Simpson said was her favorite act to write was set between 1889 and 1897. The main characters were Alexander Arthur, played by Clayton Maurer, and his wife Nellie Arthur, performed by Brittany Burchfield. The Magic City focused on Alexander Arthurthe man credited with the development of the townand captured his delusions of greatness for a city in the early stages of development.

Act two elaborately explored the series of misfortunes and financial disasters that occurred in Middlesboro during that time periodshowcasing the highs and lows of prominence. Burchfields performance was charming, and Maurer, again, displayed tremendous talent in his role.

The last two acts plunged into near-unfamiliar depths of this areas historyhighlighting the struggles of people during the 18th century.

The organization of the play was quite astonishing in my opinion, as Simpson meticulously maneuvered here way from the 1940s back in time. The distinct arrangement gave the narrative a cinematic charm, enchanting to the mind and eye, and it flowed with historical relevance and natural appeal.

Chris Ellis, Josh Good and Mat Onkst provided the music for The Gatekeeper, and the sounds were deeply intimate, relaxing and enjoyable. The song, House of the Rising Sun was performed in several different waysincluding acoustic, instrumental, acappella and old-timey versionsthroughout the play and at times, it filled the auditorium with pleasant energy. During the course of her research prior to penning The Gatekeeper, Simpson found that the first known recording of House of the Rising Sun was by a Middlesboro resident, Georgia Turner, giving the song a significant meaning and role for the play.

The Gatekeeper was presented by the Middlesboro Little Theatre organization and Southeast Kentucky Community amp; Technical College.

Review by Adam Young