Spring performances of ‘Gold in the Hills’ canceled due to the virus threat

Published 4:36 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Like the theaters on Broadway, the Parkside Playhouse Theatre has gone dark for the upcoming performances of “Gold in the Hills.”

Paul Ballard, who is the former president of the Vicksburg Theatre Guild and who is currently in charge of the main stage productions, said the VTG board held a conference call Monday night in light of the coronavirus outbreak. During that call, board members approved canceling all spring productions of the iconic melodrama.

“There were a couple of factors that went into our decision,” Ballard said, the age of several cast members and President Trump’s suggestion to not exceed 10 or more people in a group. While audience members could have been spread across the 250 seats in the theater, Ballard said, there would not be enough distancing for cast members on the stage.

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

Ballard said this is not the first time the performances of the melodrama have been canceled. In 1942, during WWII a whole season was canceled, he said.

“Gold in the Hills” is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest-running show, however, the spring season being canceled will not affect the melodrama’s standing.

“As long as one show a year is performed, it still counts,” Ballard said, so we will keep on with our record.

Set in the 1890s, “Gold in the Hills” includes a hero, heroine and villain and features sing-along musical numbers.

Performances are held each March and July at the Parkside Playhouse Theatre on Iowa Boulevard.

First staged on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers barge on the Mississippi River, the show then moved to the retired steam-powered Sprague towboat that was anchored along the river.

After the Sprague was destroyed by a fire in 1974, productions continued at a local church until the theater was built in 1978.

Fortunately, Ballard said, the royalties that had already been paid for the upcoming performances will be able to roll over for the summer performances.

As for the VTG’s last remaining 2020 main stage performance, which is set to open in May, no determination has been made if the show will go on.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

email author More by Terri Cowart