CULLMAN, Ala. – Each April, the Cullman County Museum participates in the state’s April Walking Tours. This year the tours had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also scheduled to take place in April was the premiere of Ben Johnson South’s “The Original One-liner American Diner,” Cullman’s original Broadway-intended musical. South had an idea about hoe to promote both the play and the wonderful history of Cullman- a virtual walking tour!
Two of the musical’s stars, Hannah Crider and Justin Weygand, were busy Tuesday morning filming a virtual walking tour of Cullman and incorporating different songs from the musical as they shared stories of Colonel Cullmann and other topics.
“We’ve got some good stuff,” Weygand said. “I can’t wait for everybody to be able to see it.”
Crider explained, “This video tour was actually Ben’s idea. We were going to do the actual walking tour, but everything got canceled. So, he said, ‘Hey! What about a video version?’ and we said, ‘Write the script and we’ll do it.’”
South wrote the script and the filming of the soon to be released video was ready to go.
Weygand said, “We wrote a script and said a bunch of things about Cullman, like we obviously talk about Colonel Cullmann. You can’t talk about our town without him. We talk about some famous people and locations like ‘Big Fish’ is based on our town. (‘Big Fish’ author) Daniel Wallace lived here and the All Steak is where his grandparents used to work. We talk about a bunch of stuff and we sing songs from our Cullman original musical ‘One-Liner American Diner.’”
There will be a focus on Cullman’s perseverance through tough times.
Crider said, “We thought about a few different ways, but with all the crazy pandemic going on, we didn’t really want to make light of it. We wanted to focus more on, well we’ve pulled through other crises and we’ll pull through this. (It’s) more of a ‘gather around the campfire, we are going to band together through this come heck or high water.’”
Crider and Weygand didn’t want to give away too much information about the tour’s subject matter, but they did want people to know that they followed all social distancing protocols during the filming.
Crider said, “We stayed the appropriate distance apart in the studio and we wore gloves in the video. How the walking tour is going to be portrayed in the video is we speak a little about different landmarks and the history of the town. While we sing songs from our show, there’s going to be a slideshow of different pictures of people, places and things from Cullman.”
South said that the video is titled “An American Place of Hope and Triumph: Cullman, Alabama.”
He added, “The video is going to be released on Monday, April 27, which is so appropriate because it’s the anniversary of the 2011 tornado which Cullman triumphed beyond.”
The video will feature more than 100 historical photos of people, places and events in Cullman and can be seen on the Cullman County Museum Facebook page.
“We definitely don’t want to give up everything because we want to encourage people to watch the video. Hopefully, maybe, if you don’t know a whole lot, you’ll learn something. If you do, you’ll hear some of the stories you love to hear,” Weygand said.
Crider did give a bit of a teaser regarding, “youngsters going to town on a Saturday to bring their elders a bucket of beer.”
As for the musical that was set to premiere April 9 in Birmingham, South’s “The Original One-liner American Diner,” the performances will be rescheduled once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
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