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Mid-Ohio Valley Players’ festival to honor COVID-19 victims

MARIETTA — The Mid-Ohio Valley Players will honor those who succumbed to the virus and hold its One Act Festival of New Plays at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays May 7, 8, 14 and 15 at the Players Theatre on Putnam Street in Marietta.

The show has two goals. Besides reminding everyone during times of difficulty that telling stories becomes more important, the second goal is to provide the community an opportunity to celebrate and honor the memory of loved ones who lost their life due to COVID-19, organizer Suzanne Walker said.

Tickets are $12 and are available at movp.org.

One Act Festival of New Plays will feature three local playwrights, Becca Buck, Kay Doak and Timothy Kinker.

The plays are “On Squirrels and Gophers” by Kinker, “The Banker’s a Bad Guy! or Hope Never Dies! A Melodrama,” by Doak and “Hart of Summer” by Buck.

Directed by Amber Smrek, “On Squirrels and Gophers” is a comedy about the conversation between a father and daughter who are out on a drive and discussing life.

In “The Banker’s a Bad Guy,” Hope Neverdice is the lovely heroine who works in the land office who will be rescued by Dwight Quiteright. Montrose DeMoneytaker is the villain and town banker accompanied by his accomplice Rattlesnake Sue. The show is directed by Walker.

The festival was born from an experience of Buck, a seventh and eighth grade English teacher from New Martinsville, who’s one act play, “The Hart of Summer,” chronicles many of the stories her grandfather, Pappy Keith Nichols, told of his boyhood adventures in the late 1960s.

“The Play Reading committee was excited to have Becca’s submission to consider for the festival. Not only was it a great story of local life, but we had the opportunity to have the playwright also direct her new work,” said Walker, who directs the show.

Tragedy struck the Buck family in early January when Pappy Keith died from the virus. Buck wanted to bring her play to life on stage, but decided it was too soon to try to direct.

“I had planned to sit with him and work on it, but those ideas are long gone,” Buck said.

She was still willing to have the Players produce the play, but asked someone else to direct it. Walker stepped forward and agreed to direct.

“I loved Becca’s play when I first read it and after what happened I wanted to make sure that her work had the opportunity to be shared,” Walker said. “I asked Becca if she would be willing to have us do the play as part of the festival to honor her grandfather’s memory and she loved the idea.”

After the show was cast and rehearsals were underway, the cast and crew decided they wanted to do more.

“So many people have lost loved ones to COVID and the opportunities for celebrations of their lives have been so limited,” said Smrek, who is assistant director on the play. “We decided we wanted to dedicate the festival to honor the lives of those lost due to the pandemic.”

As part of the production, the Players will create a memory wall in the lobby of the Players Theatre to honor those who have lost their lives to COVID. In addition, on opening night May 7, luminaries will line the sidewalk in front of the theater.

The memory of a friend or family member can be honored on the memory wall by sending the name to newsletter@midohiovalleyplayers.org. Photos can also be sent.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Players will add them to the memory wall for the run of the production.

Sponsors also are being sought for the show. Sponsorships are $100 and Supporting Patrons are $50.

In normal years, commercial sponsors provide backing for season productions, but with the economic impact from COVID-19, the organization is asking those who are able to help bring these new voices to the stage. Donations, which are tax deductible, can be made online at MOVP.org. Mark the donation as One Act Festival or send a check to the Mid-Ohio Valley Players, P.O. Box 814, Marietta, OH 45750.

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