Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell

Fayette Opera House is a bargain, and a delight

A friend asked, and I said yes, I will go to two plays. When I reached into my wallet for ticket money, she stopped me at the $20 bill. That's more than enough for both, she said.

And so it was, and so we had two delightful evenings of live theater last weekend. Each performance was about 12 miles from home, so we didn't break the bank on gas, either. The lesson is to pay attention to entertainment that is happening locally.

The Sunday afternoon destination was just down the road to the historic Fayette Opera House in Fayette, Ohio, on State Rt. 20, near the Michigan state line. Fayette never grew much. It is a farming community with 1,300 residents and a wonderful fall festival attended by thousands of visitors. The opera house is the centerpiece of the downtown district, and townspeople are proud of the programs held there and of the theater's 108-year-old history.

Our $7 tickets - yes, $7 for seniors and only $2 more for the rest of you - was to see an incredibly delightful play, Camping with Henry and Tom, as in Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. The third partner on the camping trip was President Harding, and that was it until a Secret Service man arrived on stage near the end of the second act. The wilderness camp scenery was never charged, which made it imperative for the small cast to hold the attention of the audience as they wove generous humor into political and history satire.

The play's cast and directing brought together experienced thespians from several cities in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

Patricia Grover, who directed the play with Michelle Johnson, of Wauseon, received a tape of the play, written in 1994 by Mark Germaine, from L.A. Theater Works. Ms. Grover is librarian at the Delta, Ohio, library. The story line covers much of the information known about Ford and Edison, played expertly by Andy Crawford and Frank Wilton, both of Delta.

It was not the first time Reed Hiltner, of Lyons, Ohio, had the part of President Harding. Jeff Patterson, Archbold, Ohio, and Jeff Pickell, Morenci, Mich., shared the part of the Secret Service man at Delta and Fayette performances.

That was the last performance of Camping with Henry and Tom, but the Fayette Fine Arts Council has scheduled other events. The opera house is becoming known for organ recitals after Don Glasgow restored a historic reed organ and other organs have been moved into the opera house. Michael Hendron of San Francisco will present a concert on the restored organ this afternoon at 2 p.m. Council members will prepare and serve a brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; the price is $5.

Mr. Glasgow says it's OK for interested people to call him to learn what's happening at the opera house this summer and next fall. His number is 419-445-0618 and his e-mail is glasgowde@rtecexpress.net.

Comfortable seats in the second floor theater are upholstered in burgundy velvet, a nice match for the building's vintage. An elevator is a major improvement for people who can't climb the steep stairway. The council's next goal is air conditioning. Art by members of the Black Swamp Art Guild of Williams County is on display and is for sale on the first floor.

The Adrian High School play, Bye Bye Birdie was our second good value, good time experience. The school play has come to be a popular spring community event that packs the Croswell Opera House three nights. The $10 ticket included a pre-show reception at the Lenawee County Bank. The enthusiasm of several of the teen cast members who came to the reception was an accurate gauge that the play would be fast-moving. We were not disappointed. The large cast, backed by the Adrian High School orchestra, held our attention until they took their final bows.

Jacob Paulson, a junior, and Nancy Scully, a senior, in leading parts, each have impressive stage credentials. Miss Scully has played Alice in You Can't Take It With You; Portia in Cinderella, and Katie in Calamity Jane in school productions. Mr. Paulson was cast as Rolf in the Croswell's production of The Sound of Music.

It made me proud to be an Adrian alumna. Am I partial? You bet.

The alumni banquet is June 23. I want to be sure to wear something youthful and slimming. It's the 60th anniversary of my class. We plan to stand tall and straight and sing the school song loud and clear. Sixty years? Where did they go?

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