Olentangy Valley News

Powell church's fairy tale celebrates 'Doc Joe'

Joseph Franz started Methodist church's theatrical run; 'Cinderella' to open March 14


Joseph Franz -- called "Doc Joe" by friends -- organized the Powell United Methodist Church's first theater production in 1990 to reach out to local youth.

He died in January, but church members say the show must go on -- this time in memory of the man who started it all.

The church at 825 E. Olentangy St. will present Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, with four performances set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 14-17.

This will be the church's 24th annual dinner theater event. The March 14 production includes a chicken dinner; the others feature desserts only.

Director Susan Dolciato said Doc Joe helped to organize his first play just one year after he joined the church, which had about 100 members at the time.

"We had no budget, very little lighting. We paid for it all ourselves," Dolciato said.

"It was his first outlet to reach out to the kids," she added.

He went on to be heavily involved in the church, teaching Sunday school and organizing youth camping trips regularly. He also was well-known in the Powell community as a family physician.

In addition to directing plays, he penned two original scripts over the years, which were performed by church members, said cast member Rita Stevenson.

"This show is our tribute to him," said Stevenson, who will play Cinderella's cruel stepmother.

Cinderella is the classic story of a girl who longs to escape a life of mistreatment. With a little help from her fairy godmother, she meets a handsome prince, and they fall in love.

"It's a great show filled with magic," Stevenson said. "It shows that what you might have thought was impossible is actually possible."

The family-friendly production is filled with colorful costumes and fun song-and-dance numbers.

It features actors from Powell, Worthington, Dublin and Columbus, including nine young children who will guest star as mice.

A portion of the ticket proceeds will go to cover the cost of the show. The rest will be donated to People in Need, which provides food and emergency services to Delaware County families in need; and to the Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation.

Cast members said attending the show also is a good way to find out more about their church.

The show is open to the public.

Tickets for the Thursday-night performance include dinner and cost $17 for adults, $12 for children age 13 and younger.

Tickets for other performances include dessert and cost $12 for adults, $10 for children.