Sunday, July 01, 2001

Sprawling 'Blue Jacket' an outdoor swashbuckler

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The biggest summer stage in the region has to belong to Blue Jacket, the outdoor drama in Xenia. The action includes 40 actors, 20 horses and three 18th-century cannons. The production sprawls over three acres and almost as many decades as a teen-ager captured by the Shawnee grows up to be a war chief.

[photo] Drew Fracher (foreground) and Cliff Jenkins in Blue Jacket.
| ZOOM |
        For this 20th anniversary season, Blue Jacket is sporting a new director, Cincinnati-based actor/director/fight director Drew Fracher.

        Mr. Fracher, former president of the Society of American Fight Directors and one of 11 fight masters in the nation, is an old hand at outdoor drama. His first “big fight job” was with The Legend of Daniel Boone. He's acted, stage managed, directed. His resume includes acting and directing fights for Tecumseh!

        Outdoor drama, he proposes, is “the stage version of a (screen) swashbuckler. There's lots of spectacle, fire arrows, big battles.”

        Outdoor drama is directed like a movie, too, to some extent. “I do direct with a bullhorn,” Mr. Fracher says, laughing. The first rule everybody learns: “Horses have right of way.”

        While Mr. Fracher says the bigness of Blue Jacket is “a blast!” what he really likes about the show is that “it's history — it's the real thing.

        “You're in an idyllic setting with the moon coming up, then you realize the action is taking place on the actual ground where these things happened. There really were escaped slaves here, frontiersmen had skirmishes with Shawnee hunting parties.

        “What I love about Blue Jacket is the humanity,” Mr. Fracher says. “It's not all horses and cannon fire, although that is important.

        “It ain't Arthur Miller, but it tells a pretty good story.”


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