- Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) - The Rose Hill Company has entered a new realm of storytelling that will bring the history of Meridian and Rose Hill Cemetery to center stage.

The Rose Hill Company, in partnership with The Temple Theatre, Susie Johnson and Stage 2, will present a stage play in addition to the annual cemetery tour.

Costume Tour Director Anne McKee said having the stage production will provide those unable to tour the cemetery another option.

“I can’t tell you the number of people that say they can’t walk the cemetery, but would love to be able to hear the stories,” McKee said. “So, we are going to take it to the people under the Main Street umbrella and do what we have to do to tell the stories.”

Meridian Main Street Executive Director Karen Rooney said she is excited about the partnership with The Rose Hill Company.



“This is a part of history that is very unique to Meridian,” Rooney said. “It has the possibility of growing into a tourist opportunity.”

“Although the cemetery tour is wonderful, the play will give you another dynamic,” Rooney said. “It broadens the story and offers access for more people that could not come to the cemetery tour.”

In addition to the stage presentation, Rose Hill Company will present its sixth annual Rose Hill Cemetery Costume Tour where local historians and storytellers dress in period costumes and portray people who are buried in the cemetery.

“As so many areas are erasing history today, we are telling the history here and trying to keep it alive,” McKee said. “Telling the history in ways people will never forget, through the arts, drama, and storytelling. Once someone young or old meet the Gypsy King, they will never forget it.”

McKee said for a community to open up and receive Kelly Mitchell, Queen of the Gypsy Nation, who died a tragic death in 1915, is a story in itself.

“Her king was distraught and didn’t know what to do, so the community banded together to provide a funeral and a place for her in the cemetery - that is a huge story ,” McKee said. “That is our brand, what makes us pop. It’s what makes us different from any other historic tour, and we must use it to our advantage.”

McKee said many people come together and volunteer their time: researchers, scriptwriters, costume/wardrobe, players, storytellers, tour guides, security, and supporters. The annual cemetery tour is free, open to the public, suitable for all ages, and offered as a public service for the community.

New Partnerships include The Temple Theatre, Lauderdale County 4-H students, Meridian Community College honors and theater students, and Northeast Lauderdale High School Arts students. Established Partnerships include Calvary Christian School, Stage 2, Lauderdale County Archives, and Magnolia Cemetery.

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Information from: The Meridian Star, https://www.meridianstar.com

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