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The heart-wrenching yet humorous musical, 'The Confession,' has returned for another year to the Carlisle Inn in Sugarcreek. Based on Beverly Lewis' Heritage of Lancaster County Trilogy, the musical combines the three books ("The Shunning," "The Confession," and "The Reckoning") into one unique musical.
To an outsider, Hickory Hollow appears to be just another peaceful little Amish Community. "There's something 'bout a life that's plain" and there seems to be some secrets amongst a few of the plain people in the community.
The musical opens with Katie Lapp (played by Kristina Kennedy) and Daniel Fisher (played by Bobby Hall) sharing a romantic exchange over a song they wrote together. Singing and playing music other than the approved hymn's is frowned upon in the community and the first secret of Hickory Hollow is presented to us.
Secrets continue to unfold as Katie finds herself in the attic of her parents house. While digging through some old things from her childhood she discovers a beautiful, satin baby gown with the name Katherine Mayfield embroidered into it.
Samuel (played by Kyle Whitney) and Rebecca Lapp (played by Kate Salsbury) are forced to tell their daughter the truth. Katie Lapp is really Katherine Mayfield and was adopted by the Amish couple after losing a child of their own.
Katie (or Katherine) feels she has lost her identity and needs to find out who she really is. She sets out to find her birth mother and the Amish Bishop has no choice but to shun her from the community.
Meanwhile, Laura Mayfield (played by Alison Dixon) is spending her last days confined to a wheelchair as her health declines. She longs to find the daughter she gave up years ago before she goes to meet her heavenly father. Her up-to-no-good husband, Dylan Bennet (played by Matthew Walker,) has big plans for the money his wife will leave behind once she passes.
Dylan over hears his wife telling her dear friend and housekeeper, Rosie Taylor (played by Carrie Greenberg), that she hopes to find her daughter and leave all of her possessions and inheritance to her. Quickly Dylan devises a plan and hires Allyson Cairns (played by Jenna Haimes) from a local talent agency to play Katherine Mayfield.
After tracking her mother to a most wealthy estate in New York, the real Katherine Mayfield shows up at the Mayfield-Bennet Mansion. She is quickly rushed into the home by Rosie and her husband Fulton Taylor (played by Gregory McClelland) only to discover that she is not being welcomed as the long lost daughter or Laura Mayfield, but hired help.
As the imposter Amish girl continues to reveal how much she doesn't know about the Amish lifestyle, Katie is quick to correct her causing Rosie to be suspicious of her true identity. As the story continues to unfold, Allyson feels she can no longer play this imposter role and deceive Laura and chooses to leave the home. Discovering his plan is failing, Dylan flees the home and the truth is finally revealed.
The Carlisle Inn is very pleased to bring back 'The Confession' for a second year. According to Mike Miller, Inn Keeper at Carlisle Inn, last year's musical attracted around 18,000 people with more than half of the performances selling out.
'The Confession' the musical was first performed in Shipshewana, Ind. at the Blue Gate Theater. Kristina Schlabach, theater manager, and Miller wanted to bring something new and exciting to the theater at Carlisle Inn.
"Amish romance novels were becoming very popular," explained Schlabach. So the timing of the musical worked out well and "it is something that has been wonderful for this area and has something for everyone."
The heart wrenching moments shared between Katie and her Amish mother after learning the truth of her adoption combined with powerful musical numbers left many wiping their eyes in the audience. Many were also wiping their eyes from laughter during the musical number "let me explain," as it seemed the hired actress playing Katherine Mayfield was drawing a lot of attention with her lack of Amish knowledge.
"People come into the show thinking it's a church-like musical," said Miller.
"They are pleasantly surprised with the professionalism of the play," said Schlabach.
In fact, the actors who audition for these main roles were among 3,000 other professionals hoping for a lead role in 'The Confession.'
The musical was presented as a theater-in-the-round or arena theater, which means audience members sat on all four sides of the stage and actors performed in the middle projecting to all sides. This style of theater really made the audience feel that they were a part of the play no matter where they sat in the theater.
Overall, the idea of a musical based on an Amish novel is most intriguing and managed to draw a full house for opening night. People were visiting from all over Ohio, West Virginia, Oregon and Maine and even one couple from New Zealand.
Plan to stay the night
So you have decided to attend an evening performance of 'The Confession.' Unless you are a local, driving an hour or more home may not be something you want to do at 10 p.m. With the theater being located in a hotel, having a place to stay couldn't be more convenient.
Each room is furnished with locally made furniture, homemade quilts, cable T.V.'s and more. The hotel also offers an all season pool, plenty of common room and lounge space, gaming rooms and a fitness room.
"Many people are blown away by the (affordable) price and how much they get with that rate," said Miller.
Make a day out of it. Carlisle Inn offers a full Amish country experience with buggy rides, a small Bulk Food store, two gift shops and restaurant and bakery all on campus. If you're planning on seeing 'The Confession' this summer, make sure you at least save room for dinner.
The Dutch Valley Restaurant offers a variety of wonderful Amish dishes. The restaurant offers a convenient buffet style that seemed to be the most popular choice for indulging in a variety of tasty dishes. Turkeys, hams and roast beefs were available along with the creamiest of mash potatoes, corn, green beans homemade noodles, stuffing and much more.
"Almost everything you get in Amish country can be found right here on campus," said Miller.
Packages are customizable, so plan to spend the day and even night with Carlisle Inn in Sugarcreek. The Carlisle Inn is located at 1357 Old Route 39 in Sugarcreek. "The Confession," A Musical is available at Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek from June 4-Aug. 17, 2013. Tickets are available online or at the box office. Visit www.dhgroup.com/en/sc/sc-the-confession.php or call 877-722-7547 for more information.