Some Clips from the 2016 KC Fringe Festival

Story of the Century is set in Pittsburg Texas in 1902. The link below opens a You Tube video of the end of the

opening number. The number has already introduced several main characters and in the video clip the

community of Pittsburg Texas shares their excitement about the brand new twentieth century.

The link below opens a video showing Rev Burrell Cannon, the inventor of the Ezekiel Airship, as he

addresses the congregation of John the Baptist Baptist Church in Pittsburg TX. Reverend Cannon tells the

congregation about the moment he had the vision of how to build and fly the Ezekiel Airship. The video

jumps ahead to the congregation’s excitement about flying “on the wings of Ezekiel.”

In this video, Paul Thorsell laments the cost of the Ezekiel Airship that’s being built in Paul’s Foundry. He

is also the principle investor in the Ezekiel Airship Manufacturing Company. Pittsburg Gazette reporter,

Elmer Baker, has just asked Paul why he has so many bills and Paul “enumerates” some items Reverend

Cannon has requested, up to and including “a brand new foundry door!” Paul concludes that “the sky’s’ the

limit” with Rev Cannon’s expectations.

The link below samples the finale of the musical, “A Hundred Years from Now” in which the community

has begun to recover from their disappointment and bitterness after the Ezekiel Airship was destroyed. All

the characters from Pittsburg, Texas in 1902 imagine the wonderful new world that will evolve over the rest

of the “brand new 20th century.”

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Staged Readings are a Success!

The staged readings of Story of the Century on 08-20-2017 and 08-21-2017 at Goppert Theatre – Avila University were a real success!  We had 150+ in our audiences and the cast gave wonderful performances of the complete 2 act musical.  Although the presentation was in a Script in Hand Staged Reading format,  the cast was costumed by Marybeth Sorrell and Erin Hill-Metcalf;  the performance was expertly choreographed by director Dr. Chris McCoy; and  Brant Challacombe provided musical direction and live accompaniment.   We told the rest of  Story of the Century using new songs and new dialogue in the second act in addition to the script and music as performed at the 2016 Kansas City Fringe Festival.

The audience was engaged and responsive throughout the performances with a spontaneous standing ovation at the Saturday evening performance.  Many audience members stayed for our two talk-back sessions to discuss the full length musical with the production crew and cast.  The talk-back discussions gave us great feedback and new ideas for possible further development of Story of the Century.

Lane Turner and his crew recorded and videotaped both Readings, so we hope to have the videos soon for further review and plan to produce a demo CD of all the music.  The production crew is scheduled to meet soon to start the process of updating and expanding the project as we begin preparing for the next stage of Story of the Century.

We need and appreciate your continuing financial support.

You can also follow us on Facebook (Story of the Century-Performance)

We’ll have more to report and more information from the production staff and cast as we progress.

David Hill,  Writer/Composer/Producer2017-08-20_171201_resized CAST PHOTO 2


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Story of the Century takes flight!

The Ezekiel Airship is the heart of Story of the Century. But how do you bring a full-size flying machine to the stage on a limited budget? There is only one photo that exists of the Ezekiel Airship.


From that photo, an image for the stock certificate was interpreted.

airship only

While the original flying machine is lost to time, there is a full-size replica at the Northeast Texas Rural Heritage Center and Museum.


For logistical purposes, we quickly realized that we would have to size the  airship WAY down in order to use it on stage. So we decided that a small-size model would work best. David’s brother, Ted Hill, is an aeronautic engineer and wood shop hobbyist. He took on the complicated task of creating a meticulous recreation of the airship, at a more manageable 36″ wide size.

EZ Ted

The model is a WONDER of detail, down to the little man that pilots inside!

In order to protect this prized creation, David’s daughter, Erin Hill, created a rougher, more durable version to be used on stage.

Some great shots of our rehearsals and show.


We still like to dream of the day when a full-size replica could be created and we will see Reverend Cannon’s vision take flight again!

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We were honored as “Best of the Unicorn, Levin Stage” by the Kansas City Fringe Festival 2016!

SOTC Cast Folly

A one hour version of the first act of my musical, Story of the Century was performed at the Kansas City Fringe Festival in July 2016.

We had three scheduled performances (7-23-2016; 07-29-2016 and 07-30-2016).  All three performances sold out and Story of the Century was honored as Best of the Unicorn Theater, Levin Stage.”  Dr. Chris McCoy directed the musical;  and Marybeth Sorrell managed design, costuming and production; and Brent Challacombe was music director.

We are now working on revisions to the full length musical and hope to do a Table Reading of the revised script and music by the first of 2017 and hope to perform a Workshop Reading of the complete musical in Spring 2017.

I’ll keep you posted.

We’re on Facebook at:

More later!

David  Hill

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The Origin of Story of the Century

Story of the Century

Set in 1902, Story of the Century is an original musical about Burrell Cannon, the inventor of the Ezekiel Airship.  From his small town in Pittsburg, Texas, Cannon invented and flew the Ezekiel Airship a year before the Wright Brothers’ inaugural powered and manned flight in December 1903.  Combining historic events with fictional characters, Story of the Century imagines what it might have been like to live during this momentous time when Teddy Roosevelt was president, Women’s Suffrage and Temperance were changing the nation, and inventions such as the telegraph, typewriter, phonograph, escalators, and horseless carriages would change the way we live forever.

Based on articles published in the Dallas Morning News and Scientific American, Burrell Cannon reveals that his inspiration for creating the Ezekiel Airship came from biblical passages from the Old Testament.  The Book of Ezekiel describes the prophet flying in a craft powered by “wheels within wheels.”  Burrell was obsessed with the revelation of the design and function of the Ezekiel Airship and studied it for over 17 years.  By 1902, he had drawn up plans for the Ezekiel Airship; formed the Ezekiel Airship Manufacturing Company, selling shares for $25 each; and was building the Airship in a foundry in Pittsburg, Texas.

Was Burrell Cannon a revolutionary inventor, a visionary prophet, or a misguided dreamer? This is the story that local newspaper reporter, Elmer Baker, hopes to discover in writing “Story of the Century.”  What he reveals is that many people have hopes and dreams for the new 20th century.  Ivey Compton, a schoolmistress, moves to Pittsburgh with hope of educating children of all backgrounds and working for women’s suffrage.  Lucy Thorsell, wife to the primary investor in Ezekiel Airship, believes in the Temperance Movement and works toward establishing the 21st Amendment.  Oliver and June Perry, an African-American couple are buying into the dream of the airship and hoping to build a new life for themselves and their family.

With a cast of remarkable characters – both historic and fictional – the musical captures the spirit of the 1900s with rollicking melodies, social consciousness, and heart. The musical was written by Texas native and local history buff David Hill with additional music and arrangements by Sarah Hill,  Chris McCoy is directing the musical, Marybeth Sorrell is the production manager, and Brant Challacombe is the music director.  The musical features a cast of Kansas City talent.  This one-act version of Story of the Century is adapted from a full-length musical and culminates in the long-awaited flight of the Ezekiel Airship.

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