Ohio Wesleyan Department of Theatre & Dance to Present ‘Dear Brutus’

J.M. Barrie’s Exploration of ‘What If’ Set for Five Performances Nov. 4 Through Nov. 13

Ohio Wesleyan University sophomore Brad Ingles of Powell and junior April Warner of Dublin portray John and Mabel Purdie in the Department of Theatre & Dance production of ‘Dear Brutus.’ (Photo by Alex Crump '13)

DELAWARE, OH – “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. But in ourselves. …” These lines from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” inspired another British literary master, J.M. Barrie. In Barrie’s “Dear Brutus,” his characters ask the age-old question, “What if?” Ohio Wesleyan University’s Department of Theatre & Dance will present five performances of “Dear Brutus” in November. 

The play will be performed at 8 p.m. Nov. 4, 5, 11, and 12, and at 2 p.m. Nov. 13 on the Main Stage of Chappelear Drama Center, 45 Rowland Ave., Delaware, on the Ohio Wesleyan campus. 

In “Dear Brutus,” a group of strangers is invited to the house of an eccentric old man for a weeklong visit. The visitors soon discover that they all strongly desire to change one aspect of their lives. But these mere desires for change become something more as the guests walk in the woods with their unconventional host. 

The play is directed by theatre professor and OWU alumna Bonnie Milne Gardner, Ph.D. The scenic design and light design is by Chad Knutson, M.F.A., with costume design by Jacqueline Shelley, M.F.A., and stage management by Ohio Wesleyan student Molly Anderson, a senior from Centerville, Ohio. 

The ensemble cast of 11 characters is led by juniors Andrew Rossi from Cleveland and Madeline Shier from Pullman, Wash. The original U.S. production featured a young Helen Hayes. 

After a successful opening in October 1917, the first run of “Dear Brutus” continued for 365 performances. Leading up to the premiere, Barrie wrote: “I’m rehearsing a play about people who think they could make so much more of life if they got a second chance. I like the subject but the treatment is a bit sketchy.” 

Despite his doubts, “Dear Brutus” was a success, and the play was performed regularly in both Britain and the United States for the next two decades. A review of a 1928 production at the Goodman Theater in Chicago stated, “There is every element which makes for popularity – a plot of high comedy, a Barrie-esque mood in the writing, suspense that does not falter and that seems to retain its spell even after the curtain falls, wit, fantasy, and literary distinction.” 

Barrie is best known as the creator of “Peter Pan.” 

To reserve tickets for Ohio Wesleyan’s production of “Dear Brutus,” call the Theatre Box Office at (740) 368-3855 from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Ticket prices are $10 for general admission and $5 for Ohio Wesleyan employees, non-OWU students, and senior citizens. Admission is free for Ohio Wesleyan students with a valid ID. 

Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities, with more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Located in Delaware, Ohio, just minutes north of Ohio’s capital and largest city, Columbus, the university combines a globally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that translate classroom theory into real-world practice. OWU’s close-knit community of 1,850 students represents 47 states and 57 countries. Ohio Wesleyan was named to the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” and is included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

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