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'Our Town' brings community theater to Holmes County

By TAMI MOSSER Staff Writer Published: May 13, 2017 5:00 AM
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MILLERSBURG -- It a classic story of life in small-town America, so there's something about Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" that is bound to ring true for a Holmes County audience.

The Pulitzer Prize three-act retelling of the lives of the residents of the fictional Grover's Corners is the first full theatrical production to be staged by the Holmes Center for the Arts. Under the direction of Mark Gornto, the drama opens Friday, May 12, at 7 p.m. at NewPointe Community Church, 8882 State Route 39. Additional performances will be at 2 and 7 p.m. today, May 13. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased online at www.holmescenterforthearts.org or at the door prior to the performance.

Gornto said rehearsals have been going well, "the biggest challenge being that we can't be in the performance space until the week of the show." With that being said, Gornto pointed out "Our Town" fits the dilemma, as it requires minimal sets and thus, there is not a lot of moving to be done during tech week.

The NewPointe location serves the production well, with its newer sound and lighting systems and individual seating, rather than traditional church pews. And, he said, the stage "is big. It's big and deep."

The cast itself is composed mainly of Holmes County residents, excapt the role of the Stage Manager, who guides the audience through the settings and characters. That role has been taken on by Jake Burbage, a former student of Gornto who played the role in an "Our Town" production Gornto directed out of state six years ago. Burbage has already been in town for a few rehearsals and will stay for tech week and the production.

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"(The Stage Manager) is a pretty compartmentalized role," Gornto said. "There are only a few scenes where he really interacts with a character," so bringing in an actor should cause minimal disruption.

The success of "Our Town" will, in part, help determine the direction community theater might take in Holmes County in the future. "It felt (spring) was a good time for theater," Gornto said. "We're pretty committed to bringing one or two theatrical productions to Holmes County each year."

"We are excited about Holmes County's first county-wide theatrical production," said center director Holley Johnson. "Community theater has a wonderful way of bringing together people of all ages and backgrounds to work toward a common goal. 'Our Town' is only the beginning of a theater program in Holmes County that we believe will enrich the lives of all those who are involved and those who attend the live performances."

Reporter Tami Mosser can be reached at 330-287-1655.

or tmosser@the-daily-record.com. She is @tamimosser on Twitter.


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