Outdoor Bluegrass Drama HALF MILE DOWN Opens Tonight on the Banks of Lake Lanier

When writers begin putting pen to paper, the rule of thumb is "write what you know." So when University of North Georgia theatre major Rob Brooksher decided to write a musical as his senior thesis project, he focused on two elements he knows and loves: Lake Lanier and bluegrass music.

The result is Half Mile Down, a rollicking Appalachian love story told through new folk tales and original music that will be performed at 8:15pm, today, August 15-17, on the banks on Lake Lanier at 3550 Clarks Bridge Rd. Gates to the venue, a farm 15 minutes from downtown Gainesville, will open at 6:00pm for preshow picnicking and activities.

Borrowing pieces of Gainesville's history and the creation of Lake Lanier, Half Mile Down follows one town's struggle after learning that Round Valley Electric plans to flood their town to create a lake. As the town bands together to try to save their homes, unlikely forces collide to underscore a classic Southern story of family, hope and love -- with a good helping of humor.

Brooksher collaborated on the script with Brenau graduate Christina Jundt, who is directing the show and was part of the Gainesville Theatre Alliance training program as well. Brooksher composed all of the production's music for the cast of 15.

"Our goal in choosing a waterside, farm setting for Half Mile Down is to create a complete experience, transporting audience members back to the early 20th century, with outdoor games, canoeing and kayaking," Brooksher explained. "We are hoping people will come with their families to picnic and play. We'll even have a "Provisions Store" selling lemonade, sweet tea and snacks."

Audience members are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring camp chairs, picnics, blankets and bug spray, though limited seating is provided.

Performances are free, but "pay what you can" donations are encouraged, with proceeds (after production costs) supporting the Soque River Watershed Association, which works to improve water quality and education about the conservations of Georgia's natural rivers.

Half Mile Down performances are approximately 90 minutes in length and are appropriate for all audiences.

The Gainesville Theatre Alliance is a nationally acclaimed collaboration between the University of North Georgia, Brenau University, theatre professionals and the northeast Georgia community. MainStage productions for their 35th season begin at the end of September with Sleeping Beauty, being produced for school and family audiences by WonderQuest: GTA for Young Audiences, and continue with GTA's Oklahoma! in Brenau's Hosch Theatre Nov. 4-15.

For more information on any of these performances or to purchase MainStage tickets, call the GTA Box Office at 678.717.3624, or go online at gainesvilleTHEATREalliance.org.

Pictured: Rob Brooksher, who wrote the music and co-wrote the script for Half Mile Down, was part of the musical quartet that accompanied GTA's 2013 production of Twelfth Night. Photo by Simpson Custom Photography.

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