Cathy Marshall, Jerry Stewart, Cheryl Di Pietro, Merv Wingard and Jim Bradrick, from left, act out a scene from the adaption of Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology.” (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Cathy Marshall, Jerry Stewart, Cheryl Di Pietro, Merv Wingard and Jim Bradrick, from left, act out a scene from the adaption of Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology.” (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

‘Spoon River’ play stages characters’ epitaphs starting today in Sequim

SEQUIM — “Spoon River Anthology,” a play about a mythical Midwestern town, tells of heartache, love affairs, loneliness, relationships and humor.

The play, adapted from American poet Edgar Lee Masters and accompanied by songs by Stephen Foster, opens today and runs through March 12 in the Olympic Theatre Arts Gathering Hall, 414 N. Sequim Ave.

Tickets of $12 are on sale at the box office or online at www.olympictheatrearts.org.

Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sundays.

“Spoon River Anthology,” first published in 1915, is considered a 20th-century American literature landmark, organizers said in a news release.

The play is essentially a collection of short, free-verse poems that collectively narrates the epitaphs of the residents of Spoon River, a fictional small town named after the real Spoon River that ran near Masters’ hometown.

The collection includes many separate characters, all providing accounts of their lives, losses and manner of death. Many of the poems contain cross-references that create an unabashed tapestry of the community.

What’s been the appeal for the past 100 years?

“Partly, I think, it’s because of Master’s insights into the human character,” said Merv Wingard, who adapted and directs the Sequim performance. “He sensed a life force that runs through and forms his characters, for bad or for worse.

“For some, it twisted them and their relationships, some as inexorable fate, and some in just the exuberant job of life. And all these characters are recognizable today.”

“Spoon River Anthology” features four women: Lorra Cornetet is new to OTA’s stage; others listed with their last appearance at OTA are Cheryl DiPieto (“Wonderful Life” and “A Radio Play”) and Debbie Embree and Cathy Marshall (both in “Something’s Afoot”).

There are five men: Jim Bradrick (“Twelfth Night”), Michael Fellows (“Scapino!”), Jerry Stewart (new to OTA’s stage and also business manager for the theater) and Josh Sutcliff and Merv Wingard (both in “Importance of Being Earnest”).

Live music is provided by Dawn Layton on keyboard (new to OTA’s stage) and Joel Yelland with vocals (“Twelfth Night”).

For more information, call the box office at 360-683-7326 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

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