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'Moby Dick' author Herman Melville to be portrayed July 17

• Jul 10, 2018 at 10:00 AM

ASHLAND — What better way to open Ashland Chautauqua’s “Oceans, Rivers, and Seas” theme than with Herman Melville, author of “Moby Dick,” the famous whaling adventure novel many of us read in school? 

On July 17, opening night for Ashland Chautauqua 2018, Melville comes to Ashland, 8 p.m. at the Guy C. Myers Memorial Bandshell in Brookside Park. His own experiences on sailing ships are fresh in his mind and he’s done a good bit of thinking about what it means to be a sailor on the high seas. Through his writing, Melville has taken countless readers to the sea. Now he will take his Ashland audience out on the waves too. 

Melville will be portrayed by Chautauqua scholar George Frein, who has appeared as Mark Twain and Dr. Seuss in past years.

Following the performance, Melville the character will answer questions from the audience. Then, Frein the scholar and actor will answer audience questions about Herman Melville and about his research and preparation for the portrayal.

Frein and four other scholars will present five evening performances and 10 daytime workshops from July 17 through 21. The other characters will be Irish pirate Grace O’Malley portrayed by Karen Vuranch, conservationist Henry Beston (John Anderson), Titanic survivor Edith Russell (Debra Conner) and black explorer York (Hasan Davis).

The 2018 Ashland Chautauqua activities begin even before Melville appears the evening of July 17. Earlier that day there will be four workshops, two for adults and two for youth.

Davis will present a youth workshop entitled “Life on the Frontier” at Camp Mowana at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Conner will present a youth workshop entitled “Titanic Surprises” at 2 p.m. at the Ashland Public Library. The Tuesday adult workshops will be Vuranch’s “The Use of the Arthurian Legend as a Political Tool” at 11 a.m. at Mill Run Place in Ashland and Anderson’s “The Creation of the Cape Cod National Seashore” at 3 p.m. at the Senior Citizen Center in Ashland.

A complete list of the workshops can be found at www.ashlandchautauqua.org. All are free and open to the public.

Each evening an entertaining opening act precedes the scholar’s performance. On July 17, the opening act is Mike Gorrell, a solo performer whose repertoire includes country, bluegrass, folk and classic rock. It’s a fast-paced family-oriented program beginning at 7 p.m. Other opening acts through the week will be the Steve Brown Trio, Spoken Images, Steven Stanley and Kristine Jackson.

Local businesses provide prizes for nightly drawings from completed audience surveys. Their generous donations of gift cards and products make it worthwhile for audience members to fill out the survey and enter the drawing each evening.

Again this year there will be a special prize drawing on the last night, July 21, just for those who have attended all five nights of performances and have had their 5-Nighter Passport initialed every evening by a Chautauqua planning committee member.

Ashland Chautauqua logo seat cushions may be purchased for $5 each. They will be for sale opening night and will be available as long as supplies last.

Ashland Chautauqua is made possible with major underwriting and statewide promotional support from the Ohio Humanities Council, Ohio Arts Council, Ashland Parks & Recreation Department and Ashland Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Ashland Main Street acts as fiscal agent. Brethren Care Village has provided generous funding for the high-quality color Companion Reader. Additional support from local individuals, businesses and organizations strengthen and guarantee an ongoing annual event for the community.

All Ashland Chautauqua programs are free and open to the public with freewill donations accepted. For a full schedule of events and a copy of the Companion Reader, visit www.ashlandchautauqua.org, [email protected], find us on Facebook atfacebook.com/AshlandChautauqua or contact the Ashland Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at 419-281-4584. 

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