Local residents who enjoy modern history, live theater, or both are in for a treat June 4-8 when Ohio Chautauqua 2019: Modern Legends comes to AuGlaize Village, 12296 Krouse Road, Defiance.
Presented by Ohio Humanities with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ohio Chautauqua 2019: Modern Legends features living history performances of five historic figures from the mid-twentieth century whose lives and work left a larger-than-life imprint on the American psyche. A mixture of education and entertainment, Ohio Chautauqua will visit three other Ohio communities in June after beginning the season in Defiance.
Visitors to the event will gather under the Chautauqua tent each evening to enjoy live music performed by local musicians beginning at 6:30 p.m. each day. At 7:30 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, with a different scholar/actor will present a performance as a historical figure.
On Tuesday, June 4, Susan Marie Frontczak will perform as Erma Bombeck (1927-1996), a talented author known for presenting the challenges of the modern housewife with wit. Music prior to the performance will be presented by Morgan Bland.
On Wednesday, June 5, Dr. James Armstead will perform as Benjamin O. Davis Jr. (1912-2002), a U.S. Air Force general and commander of the famous Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Music prior to the show will be provided by Sam Dell.
On Thursday, June 6, Karen Vuranch will perform as Julia Child (1912-2004), a cookbook author and television chef who brought her love of French coooking to the American public. Pre-show music will be provided by Kelly Bazely.
On Friday, June 7, Fred Blanco will perform as Cesar Chavez (1927-1993), a labor and civil rights leader who was co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union. Local musician James Schooley will perform prior to Blanco’s performance.
On Saturday, June 8, the event will conclude with Jeremy Meier performing as Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968), an American lawyer and politician who served as a U.S. Senator from New York and U.S. Attorney General. He was a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency before his assassination. Area jazz musicians will perform prior to the featured performance.
According to Meier, chairman of fine and performing arts at Owens Community College and a Chautauqua scholar/presenter, these performances are thoroughly researched and try to depict their subject as accurately as possible.
“I tell my students at Owens that theater is learning a little bit about a lot of things,” said Meier. “There is a lot of work that goes into preparing for a role like Robert Kennedy. You have to read both the positive and negative books about Robert and the Kennedys.
“It’s particularly important with someone like Robert Kennedy, because there are still a lot of people who remember him and where they were when they learned he was assassinated in 1968,” added Meier.
“I begin my show as though it is the spring of 1968 and Bobby is out on the campaign trail for the Democratic nomination for president. I even start my performance by going out into the crowd and shaking hands just as he would have as a candidate,” added Meier.
According to Meier, the typical Chautauqua performance consists of a roughly 30-minute monologue followed by 20 minutes of Q & A while in character and another 10 minutes of Q & A with the scholar out of character.
In addition to the evening performances at AuGlaize Village, the visiting scholar/actors will also host daytime programs at a variety of locations in Defiance and Hicksville.