Category Archives: Alliance
At its December board meeting ArtsinStark’s Board of Directors approved $1,075, 000 in grants to 31 organizations and individual artists across Stark County. The grants were awarded in two categories: Operating and Special Projects. “Donors to the Annual Arts Campaign have made it possible over the last ten years for us to award $10 million in grants to the 7 largest arts groups: Canton Ballet, Canton Museum of Art, Canton Symphony, Massillon Museum, Palace Theatre, Players Guild and Voices of Canton,” says ArtsinStark board chair Emil Alecusan,” and another $1.5 million to 600 small non-profits, artists, and schools in every community in Stark County.” The programs supported by ArtsinStark grants reach more than 200,000 people a year, and is part of its mission to use the arts to create smarter kids, new jobs, and healthier communities. To see more information on ArtsinStark’s Grants Program and the list of this year’s award winners to date, please visit ArtsinStark.com/Grants.
The Operating Grants approved by the board for seven major arts organizations in Stark County total $1,039,835. “These are the crown jewels of our region,” says ArtsinStark board member Ed Levy, who is Chair of the Operating Grants Committee. “They operate at the highest professional level and are so important to attracting visitors to the region.”
Operating Grantee Amount Description
Canton Ballet $ 127,470 To host 10 performances of 3 major productions, do
school presentations, and offer hundreds of classes
to more than 300 students.
Canton Museum of Art $ 253,750 To host 10 exhibits, 2 major art shows, and 60
community events, classes and outreach programs
for more than 30,000 participants.
Canton Symphony $ 326,150 To host 7 classical concerts, 3 pops concerts, and a
range of intimate musical performances and
interactive programs for young audiences.
Massillon Museum $ 61,600 To host 6 Main Gallery exhibits, various permanent
collection and Studio M exhibits, 5 intimate concerts,
and numerous community lectures and workshops.
Palace Theatre $ 41,625 To provide over 100 movies and art films, live
concerts, dance performances and special events at
its historic theatre.
Players Guild Theatre $ 188,990 To present 8 major shows, touring productions for
K-12, along with classes and workshops.
Voices of Canton $ 40,250 To host 12 concerts by the adult chorus, and provide
educational outreach to schools.
The Special Project Grants go to 24 smaller arts organizations, non-profits, and individual artists and total $34,974. Ballet LaReve in Canal Fulton is taking dance programs to preschoolers. Keep Alliance Beautiful is creating a mural for a downtown mini-park. The Lions Lincoln Theatre in Massillon is establishing a young people’s theatre company. “These are special projects being run by organizations and individual artists that show us every day how art is changing lives all across Stark County,” says Special Projects Grants Committee Chair Vicki Conley. In the spring ArtsinStark will announce another round of Special Projects Grants for schools and Stark County downtowns. Here is the list of the Special Project Grants approved this week.
Organization/Artist Award City NewProject
1 Alliance for Children & Families 3,500 Alliance To offer math & music program for homeless families
2 Ballet LeReve 750 Canal Fulton To provide outreach performances to preschoolers
3 Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corp 2,500 Canton To produce a drum corp program to EnRichMent students
4 Bonilla, Lindsay 750 N. Canton To present a storytelling & music program at local libraries
5 Bowen, Ted 750 Alliance To offer summer juggling lessons in Alliance parks
6 Canton Calvary Mission 2,589 Canton To produce a fashion & dance exhibition with K – 12 students
7 Canton Tree Commission 750 Canton To hold a photo contest to celebrate Arbor Day
8 Early Childhood Resource Center 1,500 Canton To create interactive texture garden with artist Michele Waalkes
9 Joseph, Craig 750 Canton To produce a season of 7 plays promoting civic engagement
10 Keep Alliance Beautiful 750 Alliance To create a mural for a mini-park space in Alliance
11 Kent State University at Stark 3,500 Canton To produce “Guitar Weekend” with extended outreach
12 Knight, Jim 750 Countywide To provide dramatic readings at local libraries
13 Lions Lincoln Theatre 750 Massillon To create a youth theatre troupe
14 Malone University 3500 Canton To offer a Meadow Mural project to middle-schoolers
15 May, Margene 750 Canton To create an outdoor art mural promoting family unity
16 Pawsitive Ohio 750 N. Canton To raise awareness of homeless animals by creating art
17 Project REBUILD 1135 Canton To create classroom mural with at-risk students
18 Rossetti, Kristen 750 Canton To provide a literature & art class for children 2 – 10
19 Stark County UMADAOP 750 Canton To provide an art camp during Juneteenth Celebration
20 Stone, John 750 Canton To produce a photography exhibition showcasing Canton
21 Washington High Sch. Alumni Assoc 2000 Massillon To increase outreach for annual Messiah performance
22 Venegas, Raven 750 N. Canton To curate and design an exhibition of historical paintings
23 Vigil, Emily 750 N. Canton To create outdoor artwork for area garden sites
24 YMCA, Eric Snow Family 3500 Canton To host One Voice Gospel Choir program for youth 12 – 24
Click here to listen to the WKSU interview http://wksu.org/post/arts-stark-picks-new-chairman
At its annual meeting, the ArtsinStark board elected Emil Alecusan, CFO of Brewster Cheese, as the chair of its 45-member board. It also brought on these new board members: Barry Adelman, Adrian Allison, Marty Chapman, Duncan Darby, Ron Ponder, Alan Rodriguez, and Kay Sanders. “Our downtowns are using the arts to reinvent themselves and to connect to the exciting dreams of the Hall of Fame Village,” says Alecusan. “Making our downtowns super creative places filled with live music and the arts is key to getting young professionals to live there, and visitors to the Village want to come experience them.” For the past 10 years downtown revitalization has been one of the County Arts Council’s primary strategies, not only in Canton but all across the county. Alecusan also noted that research shows that stronger downtowns contribute to stronger surrounding communities economically.
ArtsinStark has worked with the Special Improvement District to build the Arts District in downtown Canton, to install public art everywhere, and to host more than 100 First Fridays. In downtown Minerva, ArtsinStark and the Village of Minerva have spent the past five years creating “Market Street,” with the Art Spot Gallery, Roxy Theatre, and Hart Mansion. In Louisville, the City and ArtsinStark have been creating “Constitution Place” which includes the Ahh Gallery and Uptown Joes. In Alliance, the University of Mount Union and ArtsinStark are partnering to transform the old downtown into “The Crossing” with The Troll Hole, Jupiter Studios, and the Cat Museum. “Our support for the Massillon Museum and the Lion’s Lincoln Theatre is helping that downtown prepare for more tourists,” says ArtsinStark CEO Robb Hankins, “and we’ve provided grants to North Canton, Hartville and Canal Fulton, among others, to start filling their downtowns with public art, special events, and festivals.”
The County Arts Council has also been working with Visit Canton to develop more cultural tourism experiences. They’ve hosted together “Live Music Downtown” grants to support more musical series downtown. They’ve partnered on a plan to develop and rebrand the 100 acres around the Cultural Center as “North Market” and seamlessly connect it to the Arts District to the south. “This is different from regular tourism,” says Alecusan, “because cultural tourists are so passionate about arts and history — that they stay longer and spend more money — which is exactly what we all want.”
by Garrett Graber
For four years now, I’ve been attending the University of Mount Union: a small college in Alliance, OH. While Mount Union is widely known for our outstanding DIII football team, what I love most about my school is its commitment to the arts. On Saturday, September 17th, Mount Union will host its 52nd Annual Artfest around the Campus Lakes. The event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This year, participants can look forward to seeing art from Paris Studios, Brian Snyder Photography, and the Armored Gem just to name a few. From my past experience, the artwork is this event is always varied, always stunning, and always beautiful. Due to the vast array of vendors (49 this year) , there is always something that will meet everyone’s taste and preferences. ArtFest also hosts live demonstrations, and Jeff Piper, a ceramics artist, and Keith McMahon and his son Jesse, both broom makers, will show off their artistic talent and ability.
Artwork comes in a variety of forms, and ArtFest honors this. Live music from local musicians will play throughout the day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Art is the ability to create something beautiful, and what’s more beautiful than food? From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Alliance Chamber of Commerce will host “A Taste of Alliance” in conjunction with ArtFest. This will include several area restaurants and caterers where people can chow down while enjoying local art.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Jurying of Fine Arts will occur. This year, the judge is Jamie Kirkell, who’s art is currently in the Sally-Otto art gallery. He specializes in silk floral paintings, has been in the peace corps. and apprenticed under Indonesia Batik Master Bambang Oetoro. His art is breathtaking, refreshing, and, at least in my opinion, spiritual. While we all seen flowers before, the silk canvas adds a certain life and texture to his floral subjects. Seeing them in this way, on this canvas, is like you’re seeing flowers for the first time.
So please, if you have the time check out this year’s ArtFest. It is a wonderful to show your support for local artists and businesses. For more information, please contact the The University of Mount Union’s Office of Marketing at (330) 823-6063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It all starts with a great idea and that’s what ArtsinStark is looking for as they open their annual granting cycle. September 14, 2016 marks the beginning of the Special Project Grants process, open to Stark County nonprofit organizations and individual artists (performance and visual).
Awards will range from $750 to $3,500 for projects that will be completed by December 31, 2017 and affecting those living, working or being educated in Stark County, Ohio. “We are looking for ideas that demonstrate outreach, impact, and high artistic quality and hope the entire county is represented,” said ArtsinStark Office Manager Anne Wadian.
The first step in ArtsinStark’s grant process is the completion of the Concept Form. “This is a simple way to assure that grant projects meet specific criteria before applicants go through the regular paperwork,” Wadian said. Concept Forms will be available online at www.artsinstark.com/grants or can be picked up in the ArtsinStark office (900 Cleveland Avenue NW, Canton) from September 14 – November 7, 2016.
Once the Concept Form is received and reviewed to see that it meets granting criteria, the applicant will be sent the formal grant application. No applications will be available online or in the ArtsinStark office — they will be individually issued upon the successful completion and review of a Concept Form.
Over the last ten years, ArtsinStark has funded over $1.5 million in 600 Special Project Grants to Stark County non-profits and artists never before funded.
For more information about ArtsinStark granting, please call 330-453-1075.
by Stephen Ostertag
Our Stark County community is home to many live performance theatres and independent theatre companies. On any given weekend you can see local actors performing at the Kathleen Howland theatre in 2nd April art gallery, the Canton Players Guild, Carnation City Players, the North Canton Playhouse, or in productions mounted by independent groups like Seat of the Pants Productions, Sima Performing Arts Studio, Gilda Shedstecker Presents or Coercion Theatre Company to name a few.
The great thing about having all this live theatre all around our community is the chance to see talented performers in dazzling musicals, classic plays, an new works created and written here in our community. One such talent is the captivating, Stephanie Cargill. Stephanie is a mainstay of the theatre community in stark county having appeared in productions at each community theatre and numerous independent organization throughout several decades.
Stephanie’s need to perform started early, she says “I was that little girl who stood on a stool, chair, or piano bench and sang anytime anyone would listen. I sang when I was swinging. I sang when I was in the bath. I sang when I was supposed to be sleeping. I was in every choir that I knew about. I can’t ever remember NOT singing.” Her passion for music was channeled into theatre after seeing a production of The Wizard of Oz at the Coach House theatre in the Case Mansion when she was a little girl. “I was blessed with parents who let me explore anything that I expressed a desire in, and soon I was in youth theater classes,” with a wry smile Stephanie added, “and dance classes, but those who know me know that those classes didn’t stick!”
When asked about her first theatre performance Stephanie shared a memory from second grade.
“My teacher, Miss Ragazino allowed me to “produce” and “direct” a production of Rodger’s & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. I’m sure you can guess who played the title role! I wore a beautiful yellow chiffon negligée of my mother’s and sang ‘In My Own Little Corner.’ It was bliss!” One of the special things about Stephanie is how she genuinely relishes her experiences in theatre as cherished life events which add texture to her everyday life.
She added, “The first official production I was part of was Gypsy at The Players Guild Theatre. It was starring Ronnie Furman, a local radio celebrity. She was gracious and kind and I loved the strength that she brought to Momma Rose. It is a role that I am still waiting to play.”
Like many actors, Stephanie enjoys the escape theatre provides, she recalled times when “theatre was the ONE place that I could go to the door, drop my baggage, and be ‘whatever I want to be.’ That is still true for me today. The stage door is still magical.” Part of the therapeutic escape of theatre is losing yourself into different characters Stephanie recalls the late Richard (Dick) Rheam: “He was my real-life hero and mentor. He believed in me and believed in what he did. He never left the stage without leaving it all there. Every single time. In his memory, I try my best to do the same thing.”
She offers this advice to young performers, “When you make your entrance, make it with the intention of leaving everything out on the stage. Every time. It will make you a much better actor. Leap and the net will appear. And if it doesn’t, the audience will really believe your performance.”
I was fortunate enough to see Stephanie perform in two of my favorite Stephen Sondheim musicals, Into the Woods at Carnation City Players and Sweeney Todd at the Players Guild. Both performances were captivating and emotionally charged though they were vastly different characters. Listing Sondheim as a musical theatre hero, Stephanie adds “We have a love-hate relationship.” Perhaps this explains why she seems so patient to get around to playing Mama Rose and why Sondheim favorite Bernadette Peters is also a treasured hero.
Stephanie lists playing Mother in Ragtime as one her most memorable experiences, “I loved climbing inside of her for every performance and bearing witness to the transition in her life. The song “Back to Before” speaks to me and my life, especially the lyrics “We can never go back to before.” And why would we want to?” Speaking of Stephanie in the role of Mother, she is the real life mother of some very talented children (now grown.) “Without a doubt,” Her favorite familial theatre memories are of, “A Christmas Carol, the New Musical for two years my five kids and I shared the stage in various roles and I loved it. The role of Belle was written for my voice (shout out to Steve Parsons), and I loved singing those songs. As adults, all of my kids are adventurous, creative beings. I know that being involved in theatre helped to shape them into who they are today.” Stephanie said, beaming with joy and pride.
We all love seeing the sets and costumes when we see a performance and those elements can really aid the actors’ performance. Stephanie’s favorite costume was her Belle gown, “Richard Boczek, who was the costumer at the Players Guild for years, made a beautiful purple and green gown for me when I played Belle in A Christmas Carol that I adored. It fit me to a “T” and I felt like a princess when I wore it.” Stephanie’s costume for the recent Sweeney Todd production was decidedly less beautiful, but equally informative for her performance.
A few years back, Stephanie took on the challenging play Wit which chronicles a woman’s battle with cancer. “That role was life-changing for me in so many ways. I am a singer first and an actor second, so tackling a role in a straight play – particularly a role of this magnitude – was terrifying.” Stephanie shaved her head of thick curls for the production, when asked about this memory she recalls “when I auditioned for the show, I told the director, “I know that some women often choose to shave their head to play this role. I just want you to know that I would NEVER do that.” Three weeks later, I was bald. The play is just so brutally honest about the battle with cancer, that I couldn’t dishonor those who had been through (or were going through) that battle by walking on stage with a full head of hair. Also, I was playing alongside the brilliant Kathleen Howland, who was facing that demon herself. In the end it was not a decision at all; it just was. Internally it made me vulnerable and I think made my performance more honest and real.”
More recently, Stephanie took on another challenging role in Next to Normal a musical about a woman’s battle with mental illness. “Diana in Next to Normal, is a terrifically challenging role and under the outstanding direction of Amy Sima-Dirham, I think that I did that role justice.”
Stephanie credits many directors, instructors, and fellow actors with informing her craft. “Don Curie taught me that EVERY moment on stage is your most important moment – not just the moments when the spotlight is on you. As a matter of fact, the times when the spotlight isn’t on you are probably even more important that the time when it IS on you.” For anyone who saw Sweeney Todd, Stephanie credits Don as the inspiration behind her portrayal of The Beggar Woman.
Actor Greg Emanuelson has shared the stage with Stephanie on numerous occasions, and offers, “She challenges me to rise to her performance level and I trust her artistry well enough to know that, whatever happens on stage, she will make it work so that we both shine.” The two are currently appearing in Songs for a New World for the Sima Performing Arts Studio in Massillon, Emanuelson emphatically boasts “Stephanie is arguably one of the best actors I know, and not just in Stark County. Over the 20+ years in my theater career, my experiences with Stephanie are true highlights I always treasure. It’s a no brainer for me to accept a role in any show she does as I know we all will be better for the opportunity!”
While theatre offers Stephanie an endless line of characters to create, she also finds outlets for her creative nature by working with her hands. “I love beauty. I love creating beautiful things. I look at a beautiful garden and I think about how I can recreate that beauty in a pair of socks. I see the grandeur of an old mansion and it becomes inspiration for my home. I see a magnificent performance and I wonder what I can do to create the same spark inside of an audience member that I just felt. Creativity is just part of my being, and I’ve got this great guy by my side who supports me in any crazy endeavor that I can dream up. I knit and sew, and I like to think outside of the “norm.” For Christmas last year all of our family members got felted slippers – ranging from beautiful fashion items to outrageous monster feet!”
Currently, Stephanie and her husband, Michael Cargill, are in the middle of renovating a 170-year-old home, and Stephanie is in the thick of decorating it. One of her current “outlets” is upholstery. “I’ve taken a few classes (locally) and I will basically tear apart and rebuild any piece of furniture that I can get my hands on.”
As for her stage work, Stephanie confesses that she still gets those butterflies in the stomach before stepping out in front of a crowd. “Fear is the nemesis of live theatre – or at least my own personal nemesis. There are so many unknowns when stepping on the stage, not the least of which is our own brain, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have the jitters every time I step on stage.”
You can catch Stephanie on stage this weekend and next in Songs for a New World, follow the link for ticket information http://www.simaperformingartsstudio.com. Also be sure to check out what local productions are going up in your area and what opportunities are being offered to educate those interested in becoming performers.
It took to the very last day of an 11-week marathon to get it done, but ArtsinStark’s 2016 Annual Arts Campaign has made goal for the 11th straight year in a row. At the Victory Luncheon held at Canton Glassworks and the Hub Art Factory in the Arts District on Wednesday, volunteers and arts leaders cheered as 2016 Campaign Chair Jim Porter, CEO/Publisher of The Repository announced “We’ve done it again!” Porter reminded everyone that “In a challenging economic environment like this one — it’s all about just getting to the $1.7 million goal.” More than 100 volunteers worked on the drive and 30 companies hosted arts workplaces for the arts. ArtsinStark Board Chair Max Deuble thanked Porter for his amazing leadership saying “Jim’s determination was inspirational, and The Repository’s coverage about how art changes lives in our schools, our downtowns, and our neighborhoods made all the difference.”
ArtsinStark runs one of the 60 united arts fund drives in America. The 1.7 million in dollars raised through the Annual Arts Campaign support our largest arts organizations: the Canton Ballet, Canton Museum of Art, Canton Symphony, Massillon Museum, Palace Theatre, Players Guild and Voices of Canton. They also provide grants for some of our smaller arts organizations, individual artists, and other nonprofits looking to use the arts to deliver innovative programs. They underwrite the SmArts Program in the schools. They help downtowns across the county use live music, public art, and artist studios and galleries to revitalize themselves. They produce “First Fridays.” And they help keep the Cultural Center for the Arts, which will be 50 years old in 2020, up and running. “Every year the arts change the lives of 200,000 people in Stark County,” says ArtsinStark Vice Chair Emil Alecusan. “We want to use the arts to make Canton a center for innovation, and the kind of super, creative place that turns kids into the geniuses of tomorrow.”
ArtsinStark is a 46-year-old private, non-profit organization that gives out grants, manages the Cultural Center, and runs the Annual Arts Campaign — and much more (Canton Arts District, First Fridays, SmArts Program in the schools, 20/20 Vision, and The ELEVEN). What it doesn’t earn, it raises each spring through the Annual Arts Campaign. As of today, ArtsinStark is the only united arts fund drive in America to ever make goal for 11 years in a row, and is also winner of the Governor’s Award for the Arts. More information at www.ArtsinStark.com
by Evan Chwalek
Downtown Alliance will again host an event celebrating fiber arts and area businesses on April 23. The 9th Annual Fiber Mania is co-sponsored by the Canton Visitors Bureau, ArtsInStark and two local businesses, Enchanted Threads Fiber Arts Gallery and The Troll Hole Museum.
The event, which is free to the public, will showcase local artistic talent including fiber artists and musicians. Prizes including a Kindle Fire, crocheted throw and upcycled glass lawn ornament are up for grabs.
By following a map through downtown Alliance businesses, attendees can participate in a scavenger hunt and enter to win one of the grand prizes. Additionally, the event serves as a way to acquaint oneself with the galleries, restaurants, and stores of Alliance.
Over a dozen businesses will be involved with the scavenger hunt, with a small troll doll hidden in each location. Only participants earning stamps from twelve of fourteen businesses will have a chance at the grand prizes.
Assistant Organizer of Fiber Mania, Vickey Kugler, hopes the event will help show off the revitalization of Alliance. Kugler said everyone involved hopes to “show how downtown Alliance is becoming an arts area” and that “there’s so much that’s changing down here.”
Attendees can look forward to learn the process of creating various forms of fiber art, including felting, crocheting, knitting and spinning. Everything from raw materials to finished pieces of fiber art will be available for purchase, inspiring fiber artists of all abilities. The craft show will host over a dozen vendors and live music will be entertain the visitors.
“Everyone’s participating in their own way. It’s pretty cool” Kugler said.
Animals whose fur is used for fiber arts will also be present, showing the process from animal to finished product. Classes in fiber arts also add an educational dimension to the event.
The fiber arts festival is only one aspect of the revitalization of downtown Alliance. Farmer’s markets, new businesses and restaurants are a refreshing sight and raise hope for a thriving downtown arts scene.
Fiber Mania will take place in downtown Alliance from 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. on April 23.
International recording artist and Emmy award winning composer Mark Wood, an original member of the multiplatinum selling Trans-Siberian Orchestra and creator of the revolutionary Viper electric violin, is bringing his groundbreaking music education program Electrify Your Strings! (EYS) to Alliance City Schools, Alliance OH. This exciting event will transform the student musicians into a full-fledged Rock Orchestra! Mark will be performing with the students on his handcrafted 7-string fretted electric Viper violin as part of the 2015 Electrify Your Strings
“Authentic Tour” on April 26th, 7:30pm at the Alliance High School Auditorium. The audience will be entertained by Mark’s original material, as well as his exciting arrangements of music by Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and more. Alliance Middle and High school orchestra students will perform in a live concert alongside Mark Wood, open to the public with all profits going to the school’s music program.
When asked about Mark’s upcoming visit, Orchestra Director Crystal Sabik said, “This will be the fifth time that Mark has visited the Alliance City Schools Orchestras. Every new experience has been even better than the last. We can’t wait to welcome Mark back to Alliance and have another amazing couple of days.” The program – now in its 16th year – is a music education experience like no other. Wood and his team work directly with a school’s orchestra director to tailor-design a rock orchestra makeover complete with a public performance at the end of the experience. EYS builds on the strong foundation in traditional music provided by music teachers; creating a partnership with educators that inspires students and boosts their self-esteem and motivation on stage and off. EYS has been featured on The Today Show, The CBS Evening News, and many more.
Mark Wood is the owner and operator of Wood Violins, the premier manufacturer of electric orchestra string instruments worldwide. He studied under Maestro Leonard Bernstein, is a Juilliard-trained violinist and Emmy-winning composer. In addition to his solo career and his work with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mark has worked with Celine Dion, Lenny Kravitz, Billy Joel and more.
To prepare for this concert, Mark will be teaching the students improvisation, composition, and personal expression on their violins, violas, cellos and basses. Utilizing Mark’s music arrangements that were sent to the district prior to this visit, Alliance Schools orchestra students will perform in a live concert alongside Mark Wood, open to the public with all profits going to the school music programs:
April 26th at 7:30pm
Alliance High School Auditorium
400 Glamorgan St.
Alliance, OH 44601
Ticket Information: General Admission: $8-Adults, $6-Students
The University of Mount Union’s Department of Theatre will perform “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Friday, April 7 – Sunday, April 10 in the Gallaher Black Box Theatre in the Giese Center for the Performing Arts.
The play centers around a spelling bee in fictional Putnam County with flashbacks and cutaways that help develop the cast of characters. Originally on Broadway in 2005, the play won Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Featured Actor. The original Broadway production starred Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, while NPR’s Mo Rocca and Saturday Night Live alumnus and PA announcer Darrell Hammond were featured in other casts.
The production is a creative send-up of children’s spelling bees, which meant that guest costume designer Mary Jo Alexander had the task of making the college performers seem nearly a decade younger.
What makes “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” unique is the audience participation element of the show. Any audience member may be called upon to spell a word, or may even be asked to participate in “the Bee.”
“We chose this play because we wanted a small musical for the Gallaher Theatre,” said Kevin Kern, chair of the Department of Theatre at Mount Union. “It’s an intimate space, and in that theatre you really feel like you’re part of the action, or in this case, the spelling bee.”
The production features live music under the direction of Dr. Otis French, Director of Bands at Mount Union. The production is directed by guest directory Connie Thackaberry, associate artistic director of Actors Summit Theatre, a professional theatre in Akron, Ohio.
“Connie was brought in as part of a new focus in the Department of Theatre,” said Kern. “We’re concentrating on providing our theatre students with professionals in the field. Based on her work with Actors Summit as well as other theatres in the Cleveland area, Connie was the perfect choice to direct our theatre students this semester.”
The performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on April 7, 8 and 9 and at 2 p.m. on April 9 and 10. For tickets visit mountunion.edu/fine-arts-events or call (330) 821-2565. For more information on the Department of Theatre, contact Kern at email@example.com or visit mountunion.edu/theatre-major.
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