Today’s post is written by fellow author and friend, Sharyn Kopf. Welcome to Historical Nibbles, Sharyn!
Two weeks before I moved to Bellefontaine, Ohio, in 2013, I saw a notice that the local theatre was holding auditions for Our Town. I couldn’t resist. I love being in a show. During the audition, I told the director I would be interested in a humorous part. She must have liked my interpretation because she cast me as the comedy relief, Mrs. Soames, and a star was born.
Ha! Not really,* but a story was. Because it was in rehearsing that play that I first stepped into the Holland Theatre, a unique structure built by Schine Enterprises in downtown Bellefontaine in 1931. The Schine family was responsible for constructing about 150 theatres in six states, but the Holland is the only one with a Dutch-style atmosphere.
Theatre architecture was at its peak in the 1920s, and many were built with an eye toward atmosphere, designed to resemble anything from an Italian piazza to a Grecian ruin to a Moorish courtyard. Theatre-goers would enjoy performances amidst Corinthian columns and loosely draped Roman statuettes with come-hither eyes. The majority of these theatres favored a Spanish or Italian fashion.
Which is why the Holland stands out with its 17th-century Dutch cityscape. If you’re not caught up in what’s on the stage, you can cast your gaze on almost life-sized timber-framed facades with softly lit windows next to two windmills that turn beneath a ceiling covered in twinkling stars.
The building screams, “Story!” and not just when you’re watching a play. I loved the historic charm from the moment I walked through one of the three sets of double doors at the entrance. But it was the romance oozing from the brick and wood and stone and dripping from the two-story red curtains that appealed to me most. Though much of the restoration has been done, it’s still an old theatre … an ideal setting for a love story and, perhaps, a haunting. All of which led me to create Stephie Graham, a lonely graphic designer who’s directing The Rainmaker at the Holland … and is distressed to find herself falling for her leading man, Andy Tremont.
But I had to bring a touch of the theatre’s history into it and did so by introducing Juniper Remington, a young girl who sang from her broken heart on the same stage 80 years before … and now may be a forlorn ghost trying to keep Stephie and Andy apart.
Or is she?
After all, the theatre is a place where magical things happen and happy endings bring the audience to its feet. And who doesn’t love being a part of that?!
*Though I did win a Holland Windmill Productions Award for best supporting actress!
Sharyn Kopf didn’t find her voice until she found a way to turn grief into hope. For her, that meant realizing it was okay to be sad about her singleness. In doing so, she was finally able to move past her grief and find hope in God.
It also meant writing about the heartaches and hopes in being an older single woman. She published her first novel, Spinstered, in 2014, and a companion nonfiction version titled Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40 in 2015. The sequel to the novel, Inconceived, released in September 2016 and, one year later, she finished the series with Altared. Her current project is a novel about a lonely girl with a knack for matchmaking.
Besides writing and speaking, Sharyn is a freelance ghostwriter, editor and marketing professional. In her spare time, she enjoys goofing off with her nieces and nephews, making—and eating!—the best fudge ever, taking long hikes through the woods, and playing the piano.