This musical isn’t new. It’s been around for 4 years having been premiered at the San Diego Repertory Theater in the spring of 2003. I only recently became aware of it as it’s still in production and traveling the country.
Fire on the Mountain was written by long time collaborators Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman. Wheetman is the musical force in the duo having paid his dues playing fiddle for the late John Denver, and now as a member of the roots-music group Marley’s Ghost.
The story is that of West Virginia coal miners and is told in a series of vignettes covering topics such as child labor, strip mining, black lung, cave-ins, and other feel good happenings in the lives of miners. The story is not necessarily a sad one however, and the bluegrass inspired music conveys the simple joy found in song at the end of a long work week. It strikes me that bluegrass music itself is often that way. The lyrics are of death, separation, and sadness, while the overall tone of the music and demeanor of the performers usually convey a sense of exuberance that ought not be found amid such grief.
Fire on the Mountain plays in the Bagley Wright Theatre in Seattle, WA from February 22 through March 24. Previews begin February 22, with opening night set for February 28. Tickets are available through the Seattle Repertory Theatre.