A classic tale of longing, love and a clash of cultures - using Appalachia as the backdrop - will be staged by Actors' Theatre of Columbus at Schiller Park.

A classic tale of longing, love and a clash of cultures - using Appalachia as the backdrop - will be staged by Actors' Theatre of Columbus at Schiller Park.

"Dark of the Moon," written by American playwrights Howard Richardson and William Berney, will be performed Thursdays though Sundays from Aug. 5 through Sept. 5.

All performances start at 8 p.m. and are free to the public.

Frank Barnhart, executive director of the local troupe, said the play is based on the "Ballad of Barbara Allen," a folk song believed to be of English or Scottish origin that dates back to the 1600s. The story has been passed down through the generations and adapted to its southern surroundings, he said.

"Many people have called it an Appalachian 'Romeo and Juliet,' and in style and subject matter that is a really good description of the play," he said.

In the play, John (Joe Bishara), a witch boy, has loved Barbara Allen (Liz Wheeler) from afar. He seeks permission from the Conjur people to become a human. Granted his wish, he moves into town and marries his love. But complications soon arise from another of Allen's suitors and the townspeople become suspicious of John's background.

"There is humor in the play, but the play is a tragedy," Barnhart said.

A slight departure from the troupe's other productions, "Dark of the Moon" will feature a lot of folk music and singing, Barnhart said.

While the theater troupe is known largely for its productions of Shakespeare, Actors' Theatre is broadening its catalog, artistic director John S. Kuhn said.

"In some ways, we are expanding the kind of classic repertory by adding classic American theater," he said. "This past spring we did 'The Glass Menagerie' by Tennessee Williams, which was written in the same time period as 'Dark of the Moon.' A few years back, we did 'Hay Fever' by Noel Coward, written in the '20s but more modern than our classical Shakespeare."