'Finding Patience' finding big audiences as musical tells Holly Springs' hidden cultural history

HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's been two weeks since the curtain went up for Finding Patience: The Musical -- and Holly Springs has a hit on its hands.

"I'm grateful for how the audience has received the show so far," said Angie Staheli who wrote the script, the lyrics and directs the show. It is a historical fiction musical that tells the story of Holly Springs from its roots as a predominantly Black settlement of formerly enslaved people; the Black civic and political leaders who rose to prominence; and the cultural ties that persist in the diversity of the town today.

Staheli said shows sold out fast. "When you think about history, local history -- you're not typically excited about local history. But when it's brought to life on stage, it's a whole new level. People actually invest in it and they want to know more about where they live," she said.

On Monday night, at the Holly Springs Cultural Center, local historians and activists, including Doris Battle took to the same stage where the musical plays to packed crowds.

"You don't know my story and I don't know yours unless we share," said Battle who along with the others was invited by Staheli on this Juneteenth observance night -- to allow audiences to dig deeper into the historical fiction of the show.



They heard from Warren Holleman, a descendant of Gerald Holleman who is portrayed in the musical. Holleman was a Holly Springs Confederate Army soldier -- whose military sword sat at the end of the stage Monday night as a once-lost family heirloom.

"My dad said he went to law school just to figure out a way to get that sword back," Warren Holleman told the crowd to a laugh.



The show is a local musical with big ambitions -- weaving together a town's complex, sometimes painful, hopeful, and still-evolving cross-cultural history into a piece of art the whole town can appreciate.

"This play was the first evidence that I've ever seen that tried to include all these things at one time: this was happening; this was happening and this was happening. And it didn't take away from the rich historical legacy of Holly Springs," J. Dwayne Garrett told the crowd. Garrett acts in the musical and is also a historian and nonprofit leader.

The final week of performances for Finding Patience: The Musical begins at Holly Springs Cultural Center on Tuesday night. There are two shows on Saturday.
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