Loosely based on a true story of the two infamous feuding families- Hatfield and McCoy – and inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the namesake musical takes place circa 1865 in West Virginia.

McCoy family loves to stage home plays and write poetry, while Hatfields spend most of their time drinking whiskey and planning revenge against McCoys. It’s mostly un-clear what started the hostility between the two families, but both parties are very much into it. The families occasionally take a break from killing each other for the annual talent competitions. There is a 3-piece live band on stage consisting of Matthew Muniz (Music Director/ Keyboard), Jake Saleh (Upright Bass), and Jess McIntosh (Fiddle). Actors sing, play acoustic guitars and mandolins. New music created for the play (Shawn Pfautsch and Matt Kahler) represents Americana styles across generations, from bluegrass to 2017 pop.

During one of such competitions, McCoys’ young daughter Rose Anna (sweet-voiced Haley Bolithon) accidentally falls in love with Hatfields’ young son Sam (Bradley Grant Smith); the two love birds immediately conspire to get married and thus reconcile their families once and for all. But the other family members do not trust each other, so things don’t exactly go as planned.

Interesting choreography bordering on dance combined with great period costumes (by Emily McConnell) makes for a visually enticing show. Director Matt Hawkins, who is also a fight choreographer and movement director, incorporated several dance-like fight scenes into the play with terrifying outcomes, and those are some of the highlights of the show.

Lengthy monologues peppered with Bible quotes, as both patriarchs are fond of searching Bible for quotes to justify their actions - the play has a strong Christian presence. But despite many great passionate performances, most memorably by Robert D. Hardaway as “Devil” Anse Hatfield, Marika Mashburn as Levicy Hatfield and Stacy Stoltz as Sarah McCoy, it is vaguely reminiscent of a high school play as it lacks certain emotional maturity, especially considering the horrifying subject matter.

Rivers of fake blood, loud guns and violent knife stabbings – Hatfield and McCoy takes no prisoners, quite literally. Tragic ending serves as a cautionary tale: “There ain’t no winning in war”.

The House Theatre Company’s Hatfield and McCoy is being performed at Chopin Theatre through March 11th. For more show information visit


Published in Theatre in Review



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