Festival is a big step in reviving love for theater

Preston Crowder and Zoe Davidson sand down benches to prepare them for a new coat of paint.

Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Props are moved to the side to make more room on stage as workers prepare for the 7th Annual Oberlin Summer Theater Festival.

This prop can be used as either a ship or building in more than one play this summer.

A large frame is moved to the center of the stage for prop construction.

The 7th Annual Oberlin Summer Theater Festival kicks off Friday.

The first play to be featured will be “Treasure Island” at 7 p.m. at Hall Auditorium, 67 North Main St. It is recommended for ages six and up.

Director Paul Moser said each year he tries to have three plays — a Shakespearean piece, an American classic, and a family friendly production.

“We hope they’re ones everyone has seen before graduating,” he said.

The free six-week theater festival last year brought in roughly 9,500 people and Moser hopes to break the 10,000 mark this time around.

“It grows every summer,” Moser said. The plays mostly drew in people from Oberlin in the first year but the festival has grown across Lorain and into Cuyahoga and Medina counties.

Yet theaters nationwide have seen a decline in recent years. Moser said his goal is to reverse that trend in our region.

“We’re trying to come out with a different way to serve the theater and for people to enjoy it,” he said.

Summer is the perfect time to feature these plays, according to the director, because people are able to make a day out of it by going out to eat, shopping, and seeing the sites.

There are 50 people on staff who help design and produce each play with professional actors, trained adult actors, Oberlin College alumni, and student interns.

Although the theater festival only lasts six weeks out of the year, Moser ensured the News-Tribune that it’s a year-round project. Everything people see on stage is built and designed by the staff.

“It’s a good learning experience for them,” he said.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.