Last of Mohican drama to expand showings in new venue

This growth would be a major step toward developing into a major national attraction, like "Tecumseh" in central Ohio or "Lost Colony" in North Carolina, two productions which draw hundreds of thousands of tourists annually for summer-long runs of nightly performances.

The drama, written by Dufault - an actor, playwright and director - is based on James Fenimore's classic book by the same name. Dufault has been working on nurturing the drama production for nearly nine years.

A study conducted by the Outdoor Drama Institute of the University of North Carolina estimated that a fully-developed Last of the Mohicans outdoor drama in Warren County could sell $743,120 annually worth of tickets, draw visitors from across the nation, and boost the region's economy by $7 million to $10 million annually while creating eight full-time and 65 to 75 seasonal jobs.

Although Dufault's efforts to have a $1.2 million permanent theater built with Warren County governmental funding was considered but shelved by county officials several years ago, Dufault is not wavering in his quest towards his goal of a major permanent production with an 8- to 10-week run.

He's now seeking private and grants and sponsorships to bankroll the show until it can rely primarily on ticket sales, he said.

In 2009, the drama production received a $20,000 grant from county occupancy tax receipts, and $10,000 of occupancy tax funds channeled through the town of Lake George.

While outright sponsorship by Warren County is at present a remote possibility, Dufault has turned his attention to lining up corporate sponsors, individual donors, governmental grants and fundraisers to raise money to lift the drama to the next level of success, Dufault told the county officials.

"After expanding our reputation next summer, we expect by the end of 2011 to have major national corporate sponsors, while qualifying for state and national grants," he said.

Luisa Craige-Sherman, a board member of the production team and CEO of the Lake George Chamber of Commerce, said that the Mohican drama production has already garnered some national attention.

"This is the type of event Warren County is looking for - to draw many thousands of new visitors annually to the area," she said. "The whole region and county would benefit when it's fully developed."

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