Xenia theater group to stage military drama at Caesar Creek Vineyards this weekend

Caesar Creek Vineyards is located in New Jasper Twp. just east of Xenia.

Credit: Mark Fisher

Credit: Mark Fisher

Xenia theater production is an insightful examination of 8 veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam

Retired Lt. Colonel Michael Taint of the U.S. Air Force will star in Xenia Area Community Theater’s production of Stephen Lang’s one-person military drama, “Beyond Glory,” on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 17-18, at Caesar Creek Vineyards in Xenia.

Adapted from Larry Smith’s book “Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words,” the play supplies an insightful, personable examination of courage, duty and humility centered on eight veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The thought-provoking script offers firsthand accounts of the actions that resulted in each of them receiving the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award. Specifically, the play chronicles the experiences of Nick Bacon, Vernon Baker, Hector Cafferata, John Finn, former U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, Lewis Millet, Clarence Sasser, and former vice presidential candidate James Stockdale.

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“I had an immediate, visceral need to do this play,” said Taint, who directed “The Glass Menagerie” for XACT last season and directs himself in this endeavor. “In my research, I heard an interview with Stephen Lang in which he said he didn’t think the show was a play but it was definitely theater. And then it became clear to me that ‘Beyond Glory’ is the modern American ‘Iliad.’ Instead of the Trojan War and stories of heroes being recited by the poet Homer, this play is about meeting actual American heroes, a group of heroes with a very deep humility. None of them think they’ve done anything remarkable, which makes what they did all the more remarkable. Military veterans will appreciate the authenticity of the stories and civilians will hopefully appreciate what goes on in the lives of those in the military. But the play, like great theater, is ultimately about truth.”

Mike Taint stars in Xenia Area Community Theater's production of Stephen Lang's military drama "Beyond Glory" Oct. 17 and 18 at Caesar Creek Vineyards in Xenia. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

A longtime member of Dayton Opera Chorus, Taint, a terrific bass, has also delivered memorable portrayals in musicals such as Officer Lockstock in Dayton Playhouse’s “Urinetown.” He admits a one-person show is not without artistic challenges, but considering “Beyond Glory” concerns military subculture, he felt at ease tackling the project on his own. He’s also spent the past seven months perfecting his lines and adapting to the organic fluidity of embodying multiple characters. In fact, he regards the aforementioned Cafferata, who received his Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman in 1952 for his actions at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War, as his most enjoyable character.

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“I originally thought Cafferata would be the least interesting, but he’s actually turned out to be my favorite character to portray,” he said. “I’m having so much fun because he reminds me of so many of the junior enlisted guys that I knew who were just trying to do their job and make it through the day. And in the case of Cafferata, he did so through some extraordinary circumstances. I have run into versions of every character in the play during my military service. Also, when you do a one-man show there’s no escape route. There’s nobody to bail you out which of course makes it a little bit scary, but that’s part of the fun.”

Reflecting on his military service, Taint is proud to have devoted his entire career to the Air Force. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1977 and retired as Lieutenant Colonel in 1998. In addition to two tours at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, his wide variety of assignments over the years included being involved in strategic air command and nuclear weapons as well as launching rockets at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

“I was a cadet during the end of the Vietnam War when the military was not highly regarded,” he said. “I remember someone spitting on me while I was in uniform at La Guardia Airport. During the course of my career, I felt attitudes across the country about the military completely change. I encourage people to come see ‘Beyond Glory’ and bring a veteran or bring somebody who might think about serving just to get a deeper appreciation of what that means. It is nothing short of an honor to be doing this play. It is absolutely a tribute to the military.”

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HOW TO GO

What: “Beyond Glory”

Where: Caesar Creek Vineyards, 962 Long Road, Xenia

When: 3 p.m.; Oct. 17 and 18

Cost: $20 (includes wine)

Tickets: Call 937-372-0516 or visit xeniact1.org. You can also pay with cash or check at the door.

Protocols: Public health requirements for social distancing and masks will be observed

FYI: In honor of Veterans Day, Taint will reprise his performance in “Beyond Glory” Nov. 21 and 22 at the historic Sorg Opera House, 63 S. Main St., Middletown. For more information, visit sorgoperahouse.org.

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