Outdoor drama is just a short drive away

Love the theater and summer nights? Perhaps you are a fan of outdoor drama and don’t even know it. Well, you’re not in a bad state for it. Turn the page to get a little taste of the outdoor productions Ohio offers.

Love the theater and summer nights? Perhaps you are a fan of outdoor drama and don’t even know it. Well, you’re not in a bad state for it. Turn the page to get a little taste of the outdoor productions Ohio offers.

‘Tecumseh!’

tecumsahSUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN AMPHITHEATER, CHILLICOTHE
“Tecumseh!,” the story of the Shawnee leader of the same name, returns to the Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheater in Chillicothe for its 36th season.

Witness the epic life story of the legendary American Indian chief as he struggles to defend his sacred homelands in the Ohio country during the late 1700s.

“Tecumseh!” has been called one of the most mesmerizing dramas in the nation. The amphitheater’s huge outdoor stages permit the spectacle of a herd of galloping horses, live cannons in action, and dazzling battle sequences.

Ticket prices for Monday through Thursday shows are $19.95 for adults and $12.95 for children 10 and younger. For Friday and Saturday shows, tickets are $21.95 for adults and $14.95 for children.

‘Into the Woods’

APPLESEED AMPHITHEATRE, MANSFIELD
intowoodsFor a taste of the classic mixed with a touch of the new, check out “Into the Woods” at the Appleseed Amphitheatre in Mansfield. The show weaves a string of familiar plot lines from classics such as “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Cinderella” and “Little Red Riding Hood” with the story of a husband and wife who work to undo a curse that prevents them from having children.

Adding spice to those classics, the show picks up where they generally end, exploring scenarios beyond what the traditional stories accept as perfect conclusions. It delves into matters such as this: Is marriage to a prince really a surefire path to living “happily ever after”?

Shakespeare in Columbus

SCHILLER PARK, COLUMBUS
shakespeareHow about a little bit of Shakespeare for free? Each summer, the Actors Theatre Company in Columbus performs Shakespearean plays — at no charge — at Schiller Park in Columbus’ German Village community.

The classic comedy “Tartuffe” by Moliere runs through July 13. Beth Kattleman, of the Ohio State University theater department, will direct.

Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure,” directed by John S. Kuhn, starts July 17 and runs through Aug. 3.

“Cyrano de Bergerac” a funny, romantic melodrama by Rostand, will run Aug. 7-31. Plays start at 8 p.m., but are canceled in case of rain. Donations are welcome. Free parking is available.

‘The Trumpet in the Land’

SCHOENBRUNN AMPHITHEATRE, NEW PHILADELPHIA
At the Schoenbrunn Amphitheatre in New Philadelphia, “The Trumpet in the Land” returns for its 39th season.

trumpetWith a cast of more than 70, the show tells the story of the founding of Schoenbrunn in 1772. The show starts June 13 and runs Monday through Saturday — with occasional exceptions for other shows — at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for senior citizens and $7 for children 12 and younger.

On Monday and Tuesday nights, adult tickets are $10 and children’s tickets are $5. Starting July 5, the theater will begin the first of 15 performances of “White Savage,” the story of Simon Girty, a man who aligned himself with American Indians and the British during the Revolutionary War.

OUTDOOR DRAMA FACTS

Here are some production facts from the 2008 Directory of Outdoor Drama in America:

States with the most outdoor theatres: California (14), North Carolina (11),Texas (8)

Most history plays: North Carolina (11)

Most Shakespeare festivals: California (13)

Most religious dramas: 9 states with 1 each.

States with a historical drama: 15

States with a religious play: 9

States with a Shakespeare festival: 31 (18 of those states only have Shakespeare festivals)

States will all four types (history, religious, musical theatre and Shakespeare): Ohio, Kentucky, and Texas

WHO ATTENDS?
Most theaters offer concessions, gift shops and preshow entertainment. The extra attractions tend to draw a lot of families on vacation. The shows are considered educational, “whole family” entertainment.

WHAT ARE OUTDOOR HISTORICAL DRAMAS?
Outdoor historical dramas are original plays, often with music and dance, based on significant events and performed in amphitheaters located where the events actually occurred. Born in North Carolina, these “symphonic dramas” — from the Greek sense of “sounding together” — are uniquely American, epic in scope, and focus on people such as Andrew Jackson, Tecumseh, Stephen Foster and Abraham Lincoln.

WHY IS IT POPULAR?
According to the Institute of Outdoor Drama, the roster of outdoor productions in 2008 includes 103 theaters. With more than 1 million people attending outdoor drama in 2007, these theaters have a $500 million economic impact on the national economy, adding much-needed tourism dollars to dozens of small communities.