African-Native American Genealogy Forum
Blue Jacket Outdoor Drama Closes
Could the truth of Blue Jacket's ethnic origins been the cause for this outcome?
When the "theme" of the show was about a white captive, Marmaduke Van Swearingen, becoming Chief Blue Jacket it drew audience's of upwards to 50,000 for their summer performances. When Y-DNA tests on the male descendants of Blue Jacket and Van Sswearingen disproved the myth of Blue Jacket's non-Indian heritage attendence started to plummet, the "true" story of Blue Jacket was to be written and the outdoor drama was to continue.
Looks like that ain't gonna happen.
In papers filed with the Southern Ohio District of the United States Bankruptcy Court, the Xenia-based non-profit organization said it owes 130 creditors a total of $500,547 against less than $50,000 in assets.
Roger E. Luring, of the Troy firm Miller and Luring, who represented First Frontier in the voluntary filing, said the organization “is ceasing operations.” He refused further comment.
Xenia businessman Jim Harworth, president of First Frontier and one of those owed money, said it was all but certain that “ ‘Blue Jacket’ has ridden into the sunset. My hope is that a new show will be built on its foundation in the future.”
The story of a white man who became a Shawnee Indian war chief, “Blue Jacket” had attendance ups and downs like other theatrical presentations. Everything from competing summer attractions to the price of gasoline had an impact at the box office.
In recent years, was a controversy about the veracity of the play by W.L. “Rusty” Mundell. There was never any doubt that there had been a Shawnee leader by the name of “Blue Jacket, who had proven to be a fierce warrior and leader of multi-tribal forces in the Ohio region.
But the “historical” drama’s assertion that he had been born Marmaduke van Swearingen in Pennsylvania and later been adopted by the Shawnee came under increasing doubt and attack. When DNA testing of descendants seemingly proved that Blue Jacket could not have been a white man, the two-act production that ran all summer on an outdoor stage increasingly came to be seen as fiction.
When attendance took another nosedive and bills began piling up, producers discontinued the show, plus an alternative production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” when the 2007 season closed in September.
“Blue Jacket” has not been seen since. Harworth said it probably won’t return.
Following bankruptcy and reorganization, he said he hopes First Frontier will be able to create an original outdoor production, perhaps about legendary Greene County pioneer and frontiersman Simon Kenton.
“There’s no reason characters including Blue Jacket and Tecumseh couldn’t be part of that, but ‘Blue Jacket’ as a show is finished,” he said. “Nothing can wipe out how much it accomplished over 26 years. My hope is that a new show will be built in Greene County on that foundation.”
Court papers showed liabilities including $108,483 in uncollected payroll, unemployment and sales taxes for 2006 and ’07.
Creditors included Harworth, who is owed $25,000; Time Warner Cable, $14,696; Antioch University, $9,025; several radio, television and print media companies for more than $14,000 in advertising; Dayton Power and Light Co., $6,337, and “Blue Jacket” soundtrack composer Michael Rasbury, $1,181.
First Frontier’s only assets were listed as costumes, lighting and sound equipment, props, furniture, a cash register and office equipment.
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