Get Off The Couch: Scopes Trial, 'Mankind' come to life onstage

Get Off The Couch: Scopes Trial, 'Mankind' come to life onstage

July 14th, 2014 by Barry Courter and Lisa Denton in Life Entertainment

Lisa Denton and Barry Courter

Lisa Denton and Barry Courter

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

BARRY COURTER: Lisa, our old friend Jim Crabtree is adding his considerable talents and knowledge to an event up your way this weekend. Crabtree is the producing director at Cumberland County Playhouse, and he and some of the crew there are helping to stage "Front Page News" as part of the Scopes Trial Play & Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday in Dayton. I know you're going to say something about monkey business, so I beat you to it.

LISA DENTON: You know the only monkey business I'm qualified to comment on is my own, but this collaboration between the Crossville folks and the Dayton folks sounds like a great idea. The big change from years past is that this production will have music. Grammy-nominated Nashville songwriter Bobby Taylor has worked with Crabtree to adapt a play by Deborah DeGeorge Harbin, and Taylor will play "The Storyteller," weaving original, traditional and sacred music into the story.

Our buddy Tom Morgan is coordinating the music for the outdoor festival, which recreates the carnival atmosphere that accompanied the trial in 1925. He and his musical partner, Lynne Haas, will perform, as will Benny Williams and two descendants of the legendary Louvin Brothers, Ira's daughter Kathy and grandson Jacob.

Plus, there'll be demonstrations of traditional crafts and skills, an antique tractor show and an antique and classic car cruise-in around the Rhea County Courthouse. And if you still need more to do, you can take a bus tour of trial-related sites around Dayton and hear a free oral history program Saturday morning in the General Sessions Courtroom.

They've already made plans to hold the play over another weekend if necessary, and I wouldn't be surprised if they do. The festival stuff is free, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to go ahead and order tickets (931-484-5000 or

BARRY: I wanted to let people also know that former WWE superstar Mick "Mankind" Foley is at The Comedy Catch on Wednesday for one show only. Foley is a true Renaissance man, having acted on TV and in several movies, and he's written, mostly by hand, 10 books, several of which were bestsellers. He also does stand-up, which is what he'd be doing at the club. His body-slamming days are over.

LISA: So he says. I'd still think twice about heckling him.

BARRY: Heckling a comedian is never a good idea, but yeah, I wouldn't start with him.

And it's probably weird to talk about a closing of a business as an event, but it's a big deal. Barking Legs Theater will hold its last event for a while this weekend in order to begin renovating the space. Ann Law and Bruce Kaplan are local heroes in the arts community for what they have brought to both fans and artists with the venue, and it will be even better when this work is done.

It's always been a great place for artists -- and people who think they might be artists -- to perform, try new things and explore. When it reopens in October, the public space will be greatly expanded, modified and generally made more usable and comfortable. The performance spaces will remain pretty much as they were.

LISA: What I like about Barking Legs is how eclectic the shows are, everything from bluegrass to belly dance, though not at the same time. But I do believe I'd pay to see a show like that. If Fletcher Bright could make his fiddle sound Middle Eastern and the belly dancers would add a little clogging, I think we'd have a sellout.

Clogging belly dancers. I can't believe no one's thought of that before.

Get event details every Thursday in ChattanoogaNow or online anytime at

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354. Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.