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A play about the history of the Cone family in Greensboro

"The Denim King" will debut at Well-Spring Retirement Community this week chronicling the family's history in the community.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Denim King: The Moses Cone Story shares the history of the Cone dynasty and their home, Flat Top Manor in Blowing Rock. Audiences will meet brothers Moses and Ceasar, early entrepreneurs who made it big in textiles in Greensboro. They also get to know their fascinating sisters, Etta and Claribel, who amassed a world-famous collection of contemporary art.

Commissioned by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, this story was written by Dr. Janet Barton Speer with lyrics and music by John Thomas Oaks. It is based in part on the book A Mansion in the Mountains by Phil Noblitt.

“The Denim King is a love story,” said Speer, creative director of Lees-McRae Summer Theatre where the musical was staged in 2015. “Love of entrepreneurism. Love of architecture. Love of nature. Love of family and love of America. For John Thomas Oaks and me, it has been a love of living history.”

“We saw these people’s lives unfold as we researched and then made every effort to represent them with accuracy and integrity. As we have read the books, delved into the photographs, and interviewed their descendants and friends, we have come to see the Cones as a new family, as close to us in many ways as our own ancestors who came to this country with only a promise of a better life. It is truly an American story.”

“We are delighted to finally bring this long-awaited musical to Greensboro after being postponed for two years due to COVID-19,” said Alan Tutterow, Chief Operating Officer at Well-Spring. “This production tells – in an entertaining and compelling way – the story of one of Greensboro’s most pivotal historic figures. As such, we’re thrilled to make this production possible not only for the Well-Spring community but also for the greater community. We hope the public will join us here for some great entertainment!”


The six performances of The Denim King: The Moses Cone Story will be held in the Virginia Somerville Sutton Theatre at Well-Spring, A Life Plan Community at 4100 Well Spring Drive in Greensboro

Performances will take place:

  • May 12 at 7:30 p.m.
  • May 13 at 7:30 p.m.
  • May 14 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
  • May 15 at 2:00 p.m.
  • May 16 at 7:30 p.m.