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Ohio University Eastern Theatre celebrates 150th play

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Ohio University Eastern Theatre celebrated its 150th play with its production, “The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket,” during a reception Thursday at Shannon Hall.

A final performance is set for 2 p.m. today at Shannon Hall Theater.

Alexia Nixon and Derek DeMattio in “Have you ever wondered why it is we’ve been put on this earth?” That is the question being posed by the cast of Peter Parnell’s play, “The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket.”

As the play begins, the protagonists are 12-year-old sixth graders. One of them, Daniel Rocket, is firmly convinced that he can fly, a belief that causes him to be shunned and ridiculed by his schoolmates — including the girl he adores and for whose regard he is driven to prove himself. Oddly enough, however, it turns out that Daniel can fly, although, initially he does so in secret. When, at last, he demonstrates his talent to the others, he straps on wings (although he doesn’t need them) in deference to their stubborn disbelief.

From then on, Daniel soars to fame and fortune and, in the second half of the play, which takes place 20 years later, he returns home a renowned celebrity. But, he has also become, in a sense, the symbol of the exceptional person, the genius who has outdistanced those around him and, in so doing, has isolated himself not only from his childhood but from the simple joys and tender emotions shared by those whom he has left behind.

“The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket” is the 150th play produced by the Theater Department of Ohio University Eastern Campus since its establishment in Shannon Hall in 1968. Assistant Professor of Instruction Dennis Fox has been the director of OUE Theatre for 36 years.

“This year is a celebration. ‘The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket’ is one of my favorite plays and I’m excited to see it fully staged. The last time we performed it, we used the art gallery as a theater because the theater was under renovations. Next semester we have ‘Death of a Salesman.’ It’s a classic, of course, and we’ve extraordinarily excited about that,” Fox said.

The OUE Theatre cast of “The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket” includes: Derek DeMattio as Daniel; DeMattio is an Ohio University alumnus and a veteran of the Eastern Campus stage. He was last seen as Jim in “Prodigal Son.” He resides in Richmond. Playing Richard is Renno M. Barnes of Barnesville. Barnes is also an OUE Theatre veteran and was seen last as Father Donnally in “The Marriage of Bette and Boo.” In the role of Alice is Alexia Nixon of Martins Ferry. Nixon is an Eastern Campus freshman and Alice is her first OUE Theatre role. Brandon Davidson, of Barnesville, is playing Roger; this is Davidson’s first OUE Theatre role. Playing Steven is Skyler Dye, of Richmond; Steven is Dye’s first OUE Theatre role. Eastern Campus Junior Matthew Smith has the role of Jeffrey. A resident of Flushing, Smith was last seen last as Paul in “The Marriage of Bette and Boo.” In the role of Penny is Bellaire resident Libby McGuffin. McGuffin is a freshman at the Eastern Campus and this is her first OUE Theatre role. Barnesville resident and OUE Theatre veteran Chelsey Barnes has the role of Judy. Barnes was seen last as Cecily in “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Nicole C. Fox, of North Versailles, Pa., is playing Claudia. Fox is also a veteran of the OUE stage; she was last seen as Hero in “Much Ado About Nothing.” In the role of Mrs. Rice is Audrey Dillon of Barnesville. Dillon was seen last as Margaret in “The Marriage of Bette and Boo.”

Ohio University Eastern is located off Interstate 70, exit 213, just west of the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville.

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