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'Spoon River' about community

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After a hiatus of several years, OxACT founder Bill Brewer has returned to the helm to direct “Spoon River Anthology,” opening next week.

Brewer said that after finishing his master’s degree in theater in 1980, he and some colleagues noticed a wealth of talent around Oxford, but no venue to showcase it.

“We had fairly skilled and talented directors, which are the lifeblood of community theater,” he said.

Since then, Brewer estimates that he’s directed over 100 shows and performed in as many others, both in Oxford and with other community theater groups. But his professional obligations has kept him from the stage for the past three or four years, so he’s glad to be back in the fold and has chosen a play with a strong community flavor, “Spoon River Anthology,” based on the collection of poetry by Edgar Lee Masters.

“Although the poems were inspired by a cemetery, it’s not about death, but about community,” he said, “and what that means to our lives.”

His staging reflects that sense of community by breaking the fourth wall and putting some of the audience on stage at the Oxford Community Arts Center to present the monologues and songs in the round.

“I think people will be stunned when they walk into that space,” he said.

“The actors actually sit in the audience to establish a connection with the theater-goers and says that we all have our stories to tell.”

The cast includes  Dixie Utter (who appeared in the very first OxACT production, Agatha Christie’s “Mousetrap,”), Nora Ellen Bowers, Daryl Olthaus, Donna Stevens, Erin Schilling (first seen in 1986 at age 7 in OxACT’s “Evita” directed by Brewer) and Mike Robinson.

  • WHAT: Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology,” conceived, adapted and arranged by Charles Aidman
  • WHERE: Oxford Community Arts Center, 10 S. College Ave., Oxford
  • WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25-27; 2 p.m. Oct. 28
  • COST: $12 general admission; $10 seniors/students
  • MORE INFO: (513) 523-6228; www.oxact.com



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