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Founding Fathers coming to Huntington

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ALEXANDER HAMILTON:Ian Rose, from Philadelphia, is a classically trained actor who has performed as Hamilton for the past 12 years at educational and historical venues.Rose will perform at a free Constitution Day program at Huntington University on Sept. 17.
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JAMES MADISON: Kyle Jenks hails from upstate New York and now also lives in Philadelphia. His interest in Colonial-era history led him to become a reenactor in 2003.Jenks will perform at a free Constitution Day program at Huntington University on Sept. 17.

by James Ehle - jehle@h-ponline.com

HUNTINGTON — The city of Huntington shares an important anniversary with a nationally celebrated one, and on Sept. 17, both anniversaries will be celebrated in Huntington.

The city of Huntington will celebrate 171 years since its establishment in 1834 along with 232 years since the United States Constitution was adopted.

George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay are considered the Founding Fathers of the United States. These political figures are the men who crafted the Constitution.

On Sept. 16 and 17, two of these names will be portrayed in Huntington, in an attempt to bring the American Revolution to life. Ian Rose and Kyle Jenks, as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, will engage students in assemblies both days at Huntington County Community schools.

On Tuesday evening, Sept. 17, they will take the stage in 18th century costume, for a free public performance at Huntington University’s Zurcher Auditorium.

“I’m eager to hear what they have to say about the events of our day in the framework of their political and government experience,” said Mike Perkins, a member of the program’s organizing committee. “And I’m eager to see how the public reacts to that.”

Although it has been over two centuries since the Constitution was adopted, Perkins says the values are equally relevant today. He hopes students and the community alike will take away a deeper appreciation for the kind of thinking that went into the Constitution.

“It reinforces the fact that these people were flesh and blood, they really were, they were Americans like we are, in a different time but with the same concerns and a lot of the same feelings about our country that people hold today,” Perkins said. “It’s just a different way to convey a familiar message.”

Support for Tuesday’s event is provided by the City of Huntington and Huntington University.

“History is something that every American needs to appreciate and any way that you can promote that I think you’re doing a good thing,” Perkins said. “I congratulate the Mayor on his efforts to put this together.”

Ian Rose, from Philadelphia, is a classically trained actor who has performed as Hamilton for the past 12 years at educational and historical venues including the Smithsonian Institution, the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, and the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.

Rose has appeared in a number of television productions as well, including a “People’s Court” reenactment of an Alexander Hamilton legal case. While earning his degree in acting from Western Illinois University, Rose took up fencing and later became a black belt in karate. Throughout his acting career, he has specialized in choreographing stage combat.

Kyle Jenks hails from upstate New York and now also lives in Philadelphia. His interest in Colonial-era history led him to become a reenactor in 2003. He performed as a character, “Douglas McKenna the Patriot,” for several years before his focus and study turned to James Madison. Jenks has produced, written, and directed outdoor historical dramas, among them an adaptation of Walter Edmonds’ “Drums Along the Mohawk.”

Huntington resident Gib Young, who is a nationally renowned interpreter of Theodore Roosevelt, will introduce the Founders at the Tuesday night public event.

Young was part of Huntington’s 2018 Constitution Day program, “Rushmore Live!” accompanied by reenactors of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

“We were very pleasantly surprised last year by the amount of younger people who attended the event at the University and really got into it,” Perkins said. “(Students) came up to the stage and asked the four presidential figures questions and posed for photos.”

Doors open at 6:15 p.m. for the 7 p.m. “Founding Fathers” program. The Huntington County Community Choir’s CopperSound and the Huntington University Choral Ensemble will open the evening’s festivities.

Zurcher Auditorium is in the Merillat Centre for the Arts on the Huntington University campus, 2303 College Avenue, Huntington.