Sunday, June 17, 2001

Underground Railroad drama gets on track

By Erin Kosnac
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Slowly but surely Greater Cincinnati is getting closer to having its first outdoor drama.

        Playwrights Ken Jones and Isaac Turner have been selected to write the script for North Star Productions' Underground Railroad-themed outdoor drama in Augusta, Ky.

        “I really, really felt that it should be a cooperation between two people, one African-American and one white,” says Shirley Mohrfield, chair and co-founder of North Star Productions. “I wanted this emotional story to come from two sides.

        “It's just something that I've felt strongly about for a long time.”

        Mr. Jones and Mr. Turner have worked together numerous times since their days at Northern Kentucky University, Mrs. Mohrfield says, and both carried a list of impressive credentials (Moliere, Pippin, The Land without Liberty, A Christmas Carol).

        The two men presented a synopsis and were given the OK to proceed with the first draft of In the Footsteps of Angels. Mrs. Mohrfield says the first draft should be completed by mid-September.

        Plans for the outdoor drama and cultural center started about two years ago, and an initial opening date was scheduled for late June 2003. With the project still in the early fund-raising stage, construction of the site has not begun.

        This doesn't bother Mrs. Mohrfield.

        "If we don't get it up until 2004, we don't get it up,” she says. “There's nothing really hinging on a date.”

        The project has been in the works even longer for Mrs. Mohrfield.

        “It's been a passion of mine,” she says. “I studied this subject when I wrote a thesis for it in high school 40 years ago.

        “I've been working on the idea for 15 years. Now this is all just really amazing for me to watch happen.”

        Of the $5 million needed for the project, Mrs. Mohrfield says about $250,000 has been raised, but she adds that the major fund-raising campaign has not started. For more information call (606) 756-2525.


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