As the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival draws tens of thousands of visitors to the banks of the Ohio River, Shakespeare on the River will give audiences the chance to see three performances of “In the woods” on the Muskingum River.
“Shakespeare by the River is the community outreach festival (at Marietta College) where we bring free pre-professional theater to our community”, said Andy Felt, a theater teacher at MC. “This is the first year that we have used the festival to produce a large family musical instead of a Shakespeare play and we plan to move to a rotation every two years for musicals and Shakespeare plays. So next year you can expect a free Shakespeare play and a sequel to another musical etc.
Performances are free and take place at 8 p.m. on September 8, 9, and 11 at the gazebo in Muskingum Park during Sternwheel weekend, skipping Saturday night for the fireworks display. A limited number of folding chairs will be available, so customers are encouraged to bring their own chairs or blankets.
Stephen Sondheim originally wrote the musical in 1987. The production of Shakespeare on the River is directed by Aurora Held Dodd, a teacher in MC’s drama department. Dylan Todd Brown, Class of 2023, of Marietta, and Kyra Cutsail, Class of 2023, Laurel, Del., who are both graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater, play the Baker and the Baker’s Wife, respectively.
Victoria Humphrey, class of 2024, Marietta, who is earning degrees in music education and vocal performance, plays the witch. Bayden Hoblitzell, Class of 2023, Marietta, who is earning a BFA in Technical Theater, is working on an ambitious project as the scenic, costume and property designer for the production.
Felt said there will also be special guests including retired Legacy Library director Douglas Anderson playing the narrator, retired provost Janet Bland voicing the giant, and Felt playing the mysterious man.
Justine Schneider, Class of 2013, professional stage and theater performer, also assists in the musical.
“I worked on banner designs when I was a student, so being hired to work on them now is a bonus,” said Schneider, who has designed MC Theater’s season graphics since 2020.
“Collaborating with Andy, Lisa (Grande) and Cas (Felt) is, and always has been, a great experience. The technical side of graphic design can be a learning curve, but we are all patient and understanding throughout. They give me great artistic freedom to create the designs, offering helpful feedback where needed.