BONNE TERRE — Orville Wright will take the stage tonight during the first night of Chautauqua.
Wright, who is portrayed by Jim Spence, and the two other Chautauqua characters were introduced to the community Wednesday night during the Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce meeting.
The performers were excited to meet each other for the first time earlier that day. Spence said it was the first time all three of the characters were together in one room.
“We have been talking about the interactions between (the characters),” Spence said. “We have never been all together at the same time until now.”
Spence has been performing professionally as Wright for 12 years.
“We are living historians,” Spence said. “We are so wrapped up in the individual that we become that individual when (we talk to people).”
Spence will talk about the different types of machines that were patented through 1935 and about the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903. He will talk about the first flight as he, Orville Wright, remembers it. While Spence never had the chance to talk to Wright himself, he has talked to Wright’s nephew about the first flight.
Spence’s performance will start just after 7:30 p.m. today. He will perform as Wright for 30 to 45 minutes before answering questions as Wright and then as himself.
Pat Jordan will portray Amelia Earhart Friday night while Steve Carroll will perform as Charles Lindbergh Saturday night.
All performances, which will be held at the Bonne Terre Elementary ballfields, are free and open to the public. Seating under the tent is provided but members of the audience may bring their own lawn chairs.
Dinner will be served every night at 5:30 p.m., followed by pre-show entertainment which starts at 6:30 p.m.
Tonight, Earl Mullins will talk about the space museum he is opening up next door to Heritage Hall in Bonne Terre. Andrea and Emily Layden will present Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First.” The Chautauqua Singers, who have been performing at Chautauqua every year, will perform songs of the era.
Each of the Chautauqua performers will be introduced tonight. They will speak briefly about their character to give the audience a taste of what is to come.