By Adam Black
The Ashland Beacon
The Paramount Arts Center and First Presbyterian Church of Ashland will present "200 Years," a musical journey through the past to find faith for the present.
Written and directed by Rick Payne, the original musical celebrates the history of Ashland as well as Ashland's oldest church, First Presbyterian Church of Ashland, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year.
"It's very meaningful to me," Director and writer, Rick Payne said. "It’s actually ironic to me because my great grandmother was a Poage.
First Presbyterian Church is the oldest existing congregation in Ashland, as well as the oldest structure in Boyd County. The First Presbyterian Church has two members who are older than 100, and both are still very active in the historic church.
The church got its start when the Poage family moved west and settled in Ashland in 1799 when Ashland was known as the Poage settlement. As the area grew in population, the settlement became known as Poage Landing and was later renamed, Ashland.
"It's nice to have a personal connection to the Poages. It makes this show just a bit more special to me," Payne said.
Payne said the show is about faith and wanted to incorporate a lot of historical factors about the Poages and the First Presbyterian Church. While the free show contains history, it will also entertain guests with a story of faith based on a man who has been very involved in church and faces challenging times, leading him to question his faith. Through a series of events in the musical, the man starts talking about his family history in Ashland and how God has been there every step of the way.
"By the end of the show he realizes he needs to have faith and trust in God," Payne said.
Members of the congregation at the First Presbyterian Church will also hear some references to their current pastor in the show that have been strategically placed.
"Pastor Bill at the church always says, ‘flame on’ so we had to incorporate that in the show," Payne said.
To write the musical, Payne did a lot of research of the historic church and looked through the history carefully seeing what stood out to him. The director also considered his personal experiences being raised in a church and adding a lot of his faith in the show.
"It's a great combination of history and the faith the brought me through my trials and tribulations just put together into a story," Payne said.
Payne hopes the audience will take away the message of faith from his show and walk away with religion. He spoke about the sermon at the end of the show where he hopes the audience will remember to let God lead them in life and always to remember he has a plan for them.
"It's a really good show. I'm proud and honored to be a part of it," Payne said.
Payne also complimented the cast of the show.
"They are amazingly talented," Payne said. "They have such high energy and are so dedicated to this show and the multiple other we have going on at the Paramount."
"200 Years" the musical will make its debut Thursday at the Paramount Arts Center at 7 p.m. The musical is free to the public.