Less than a half hour from my home is a local treasure that we have enjoyed for many years. The Holland Theatre, in Bellefontaine, Ohio, was built in 1931 and is believed to be the only Dutch-style atmospheric theatre in the United States. It is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is a fascinating old building. The walls of the theatre were built to resemble a 17th century Dutch cityscape. Complete with windmills, tulips waving from window boxes, and lighted windows, it is as if you are strolling down the street at dusk through a small Dutch town. You almost expect a door or window to open and a smiling face to greet you and wave hello. It has been the home to a local cinema and various cultural programs over the years. The theatre was closed for awhile when the multiplex cinemas came to town, but was purchased and a local group continues to raise funds to keep it alive and to refurbish the building.
Last weekend, at The Holland Theatre, the Mad River Theatre Works performed an original production by Jeff Hooper titled “Freedom Bound.” It tells the true story of Addison White, a slave from Kentucky, who finds freedom traveling the Underground Railroad to Mechanicsburg, Ohio. The play is based on a story told and retold by White’s family and was carefully researched before it was written in 1998. What made this presentation especially meaningful was the fact that Addison White’s great-grandson, John Booth, and his family were part of the production. The Booth Family played drums, sang, and recited poetry prior to the play. John, his wife and two school-age children performed and were well-received. Also in the audience were other descendants of Addison White who still reside in Ohio. It was a lovely performance with high-quality actors and original music and a message so appropriate for the weekend leading up to Martin Luther King Day.
Information taken from an article in the Bellefontaine Examiner, written by Reuben Mees