photos courtesy of The Marietta Times
In the fall of 1959 the “Valley Players” presented a series of one-act plays in the auditorium of Washington Elementary School. The first full-length play, The Solid Gold Cadillac, soon followed.
From 1965 to 1968 plays were presented at the Masonic Park Pavilion in Devola. In 1968 Mid-Ohio Valley Players, MOVP, found its first permanent home in the Harmar Chapel. From 1973 to 1977 musicals were performed at the Marietta High School auditorium and dinner theatres were presented at the Marietta Country Club and at the local Ramada Inn. Later in the 1990s, dinner theatre was performed at the Lafayette Hotel.
In 1973 MOVP presented Hello, Dolly! as its first annual summer musical. As part of the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial, MOVP staged the musical Showboat aboard the Showboat Becky Thatcher. An audience of 3,000, seated on the shore, enjoyed the six performances.
A fund drive in 1977 raised the necessary monies enabling the purchase by MOVP of an old vaudeville house/movie theatre known as “The Cinema”. The musical Carnival initiated MOVP’s new home in the summer of 1977.
The MOVP Junior Players was founded in 1981 as a major outreach program to involve young people in the theatre arts and introduce them to MOVP. In 1992 the founding of the MOVP Youth Theatre gave our teens an outlet for their talents.
1987 brought the world premiere of Simon Farrell’s Queen of the River, a musical salute to Marietta’s Bicentennial. MOVP has premiered two other original dramatic productions: The House on Shawnee Street and The Portrait, the latter having been written by several of our own members.
Since 1977, a sizeable of effort has gone toward maintaining and renovating the Players Theatre. There is still much work to be done. It is not easy to keep a building built between 1914-1915 in impressive working order some 90 years later. Yet we are most proud of the fact that we have taken one of Marietta’s five original theatres operating in the downtown area in the early 1900s and continued its proud tradition of bringing live theatre to the community.