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Actors in the park

As the Sternwheel Festival draws tens of thousands of visitors to the banks of the Ohio River, Shakespeare by the River will give audiences the chance to see three performances of Into the Woods on the Muskingum River.

“Shakespeare by the River is (Marietta College’s) community outreach festival where we bring pre-professional theatre to our community for free,” said Theatre Professor Andy Felt. “This is the first year we are using the festival to produce a big, family-friendly musical instead of a Shakespeare play and we are planning on moving to an every-other-year rotation for musicals and Shakespeare plays. So next year you can expect a free Shakespeare play and the following another musical and so on.”

The performances are free and set for September 8th, 9th, and 11th during Sternwheel weekend, skipping Saturday evening to watch the fireworks. Shows start at 8:00 p.m. at East Muskingum Park’s gazebo. There will be a limited number of folding chairs, so guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs or blankets.

Stephen Sondheim originally wrote the musical in 1987. The Shakespeare on the River production is being directed by Aurora Held Dodd, an instructor in the Theatre Department at Marietta. Dylan Todd Brown ’23 (Marietta, Ohio) and Kyra Cutsail ’23 (Laurel, Delaware), who are both earning Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Theatre, are playing the Baker and the Baker’s Wife, respectively. Victoria Humphrey ’24 (Marietta, Ohio), who is earning degrees in Music Education and Vocal Performance, is playing the Witch. Bayden Hoblitzell ’23 (Marietta, Ohio), who is earning a BFA in Technical Theatre, is working on a very ambitious capstone project by serving as the Scenic, Costume, and Properties Designer for the production. Felt said there will also be special guests, including retired Legacy Library Director Dr. Douglas Anderson playing the Narrator, retired Provost Dr. Janet Bland voicing the Giant, and Felt playing the Mysterious Man.

Also helping with the musical is Justine Schneider ’13, a professional scenic artist and theatre artist.

“I worked on the banner designs back when I was a student, so being contracted to work on them now is a bonus,” said Schneider, who has designed Marietta College Theatre’s season graphics since 2020. “Collaborating with Andy, Lisa (Grande) and Cas (Felt) is, and has always been, a great experience. The technical side of graphic design can be a learning curve, but we are all patient and understanding through the process. They give me a lot of artistic freedom to create the designs, offering helpful feedback when necessary.”