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SUGARCREEK -- Ohio Star Theater will begin its fifth season within the Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek in a new state-of-the art 500-seat theater this year. Nearly 100,000 guests have laughed and cried while enjoying the heart-warming and intriguing stories portrayed on stage over the past four years. The theater will be located on the Dutch Valley Restaurant campus at the intersection of state Route 39 and Ragersville Road in Sugarcreek.
Blue Gate Musicals, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., is the producer of the musicals. Led by Dan Posthuma and Wally Nason, the musical productions rival those experienced on Broadway. First time guests are surprised and delighted by the unexpected level of professional performances.
"The shows are Broadway-caliber shows," Susanna Cox, General Manager of Ohio Star Theater. "They screen more than 3,000 actors a year for their roles. This is not a knock on community theater. It has its place. But that's not what this is. This is more of an experience you used to have to go to a major market for. Now we have it here in our own backyard."
The venue will be more than musicals. It is all about family-friendly entertainment in a wholesome setting.
"You won't have to worry about questionable content," Cox said. "The shows will be uplifting and encouraging. We can use all of that we can get these days.
"There will be concerts and a lot of community event-type things," she added. "So much is still in the works at this point. We definitely have some exciting things that are going to be happening outside of the Blue Gate Musicals."
Highly trained with degrees in vocal performance, theater performance, acting and musical performance, cast members are chosen from among thousands of professionals who audition each year. Those selected come from all over the United States to spend the season living and performing in Sugarcreek.
"We are literally standing on the shoulders of giants," Cox said. "They have done such a great job over the years at the Carlisle Inn with the shows. That had to be so hard to tear down, set up and have that theater in the round become so successful that this is possible. They have done a great job to build this for this area.
"The riggings, the catwalk and such will all be incorporated into the sets," Cox added.
Mike Palmer, president of Dutchman Hospitality Group, announced that plans have been finalized and construction is almost finished.
"We are privileged to be working with an amazing team, each playing a key role in the creation of what will be an extraordinary experience for guests attending the new Ohio Star Theater," Palmer said.
Those involved in the project are Widder Architectural, Ivan Weaver Construction, Kidron Electric, Studio Mantra and Halo Systems.
"We hope to have the exterior of the building completed by fall with interior finishes being done throughout the winter," Palmer said. "This will allow us to have a soft opening in early spring, possibly featuring local community events and concerts by local performers."
Saturday, April 1, 2017, is the projected opening of the new Ohio Star Theater with a Guy Penrod concert scheduled at 7 p.m. Another area favorite, Jon Schmid and Friends, is scheduled for Saturday, April 8.
The new musical for 2017 will be "Home Game," which will begin on May 9, 2017.
"Home Game" is the story of a young Amish man who excels in baseball and receives an offer he can't refuse. It is the story of a son's journey and a father's hope.
Since 2012, Dutchman Hospitality Group has been offering high quality, wholesome entertainment through live musicals presented in the Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek's conference center.
The conference center was transformed into a theater in the round. With the stage on the floor in the center of the room and elevated seating 360 degrees around the stage, theater guests have enjoyed the experience of being close to the action.
More information about Dutchman Hospitality and the Ohio Star Theater is available online at www.dhgroup.com. Tickets are available online or by calling 855-344-7547.
Reporter Kevin Lynch can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.