Central Ohio actors and theater troupes starting to stage returns

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
(From left) Drew Eberly, Duncan McKennie, Susan Wismar and Megan Lear will portray four of the characters in the Actors' Theatre of Columbus production of "Much Ado About Nothing," which opens at 8 p.m. May 27 in Schiller Park.

Central Ohio's theater troupes are ready to start performing for live, in-person audiences again.

As part of that return after a year of COVID-19 coronavirus-related cancellations, a seasoned acting company in German Village will perform May 27, and a longtime resident of the Columbus historic district will make her first contribution to live theater in Dublin in June.

Actors’ Theatre of Columbus returns to the stage at 8 p.m. May 27  in Schiller Park in German Village, with the opening of William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing."

“It is a tremendous privilege to be able to return to Schiller Park,” said Philip J. Hickman, artistic director of the troupe. “We have a longstanding relationship with our vibrant community. Things are a bit different, to be sure, but the excitement of being able to perform in German Village makes it easy to look for great solutions to our new circumstances.”

“Much Ado About Nothing” will be followed by “The African Company presents Richard III,” “Eurydice” and “The Secret Garden,” which concludes the season.

“Much Ado About Nothing” is one of Shakespeare’s most well-known romantic comedies, Hickman said.

“It is a play about discovering love and joy after difficulties; it seemed like a joyful way to return to Schiller Park," he said.

All performances of “Much Ado About Nothing” will be held at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through June 20 at the Schiller Park amphitheater, 1000 City Park Ave.

All shows are free and open to the public, but goodwill donations will be accepted.

New for 2021, premium boxes of two reserved zero-gravity chairs are $45, and basic boxes with a reserved blanket with the Actors’ Theatre of Columbus logo are $25. Reservations are available at ci.ovationtix.com/35492.

Social-distancing guidelines will be observed, Hickman said. For example, spectators will be asked to wear masks in line for the restroom at Schiller Community Center and concession stands.

“While it seems that changes in the statewide mandates are coming, we are committed to complying with the city of Columbus’ regulations, as well,” Hickman said. “We want our supporters and guests to feel comfortable and have a great time.

“We also want to prioritize the safety of our staff, crew and cast. As things change, we will be continually assessing our practices to make Actors’ Theatre a great summer experience.”

New playwright

Meanwhile, longtime German Village resident and former attorney Catherine Adams has penned her first play, “City Jail,” which will be performed at 7 p.m. June 5 at the Abbey Theater, 5600 Post Road in Dublin's Coffman Park.

Catherine Adams

Adams, who also is the former owner of Caterina Ltd., a home-furnishing store in German Village, said “City Jail” was written from her observations during her 25 years of practicing law, mostly in the area of labor management.

“I early realized that most businesses are made up of good people trying to do the right thing against tough odds – trying to make a go at a profitable business,” she said.

“As a female attorney, I was often called upon to defend against claims of workplace sexual harassment. A pattern emerged: Most of these claims appeared to be fabricated, often in the same strange way.

“Sexual harassment does happen. But it is very easy to make the claim, and the damage to others cannot be undone."

Actor and director Joe Bishara, the supervisor of Abbey Theater in Dublin, is directing the play and hiring actors for the reading.

Tickets are free but must be reserved at stagerighttheatrics.ticketspice.com/city-jail. Goodwill offerings also will be accepted, she said.

Those in attendance can expect to wear masks and follow social-distancing protocols, Adams said.

There is a lesson to be learned from the story, said Adams, who is the wife of former Columbus Mayor Greg Lashutka.

“Dig for the truth: Don’t assume every claim without questioning,” she said.

Adams said the play is not an autobiographical account of her life, “but I do identify with a couple of the characters, like the lawyer Margaret and the court watcher."

Serious subjects are broached in the play.

“It’s not a comedy, though there is a little comic relief,” Adams said. “’City Jail’ is more of a courtroom drama. This is pretty serious stuff.”

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary