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March 07, 2019 : Donor support has positive impact for students at OHIO's Lancaster campus

by Christina Bernthold



The Ohio University Lancaster Theatre department now has state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment thanks to the generous donations of the Lancaster community contributing over $250,000 for renovations.


Improvements made to the Wagner Theatre include custom carpeting, lighting board, sound system, acoustic panels, lighting instruments, reconfigured electrical piping, onstage cyclorama (backdrop), red velvet grand drape, a reconfigured and updated tech booth, painting renovations and new stage extensions. Additional fundraising resulted in support from Ohio Arts Council for special rigging for The Wizard of OZ (On The Fly) which was the 2016 Lancaster Festival Summer Musical. Recently, the theatre program also got additional support from PNC Nannie B. Martens Trust for the purchase of new stage extensions.


According to artistic director and lecturer of the theatre, A. Victor Jones, these generous donations have made a significant impact, “We are so blessed to have the continuing support of donors. Without their generous support on the Wagner Theatre renovation project, none of this would be possible. We have several seniors who will be graduating this year. All of the new lighting and sound equipment have prepared our students for their futures.”


techbooththeatreAs a student who has participated in numerous OHIO Lancaster theatre productions, senior communications major Christina Bernthold, directly benefited from the generous donations.


“Before going to Ohio University Lancaster, I lacked experience in the production side of theatre. Because of upgrades in the equipment in the theatre, I learned set building, sound and lighting board operations, and other varied aspects of stage management,” Bernthold said. “Theatre has given me opportunities to get out of my comfort zone and to believe in myself. Because of this experience, I have developed confidence in interviewing and marketable skills for my future career.”


Brooke Arnold, an assistant to Director Jones and a senior communications major, has been a theatre student since before the renovations. “It’s encouraging to be a part of a community that so enthusiastically supports the arts and the theatre program at Ohio University Lancaster. The renovations have helped students who are studying theatre to keep up with the new technology that is being used in the current theatre industry.”


Bernthold learned just what it takes to make a theatrical production happen from casting to the final curtain. “A musical takes all different types of people. It must run like a well-oiled machine and everyone must work together so the show can go on. During the academic year, it is up to the students and the director to put together the shows. All set design, costumes, and promotions happen with the help of all the students. I have had the opportunity to be both Music Director and Stage Manager in past shows. Other students have also had the opportunity to be Lighting Designer, Costume Designer, Choreographers, and Student Assistants.”


Bernthold knows her experience has prepared her well for her future career. “I am graduating in May of 2019 with bachelors in Communication Studies,” she said. “As my college days are quickly ending, I have recently asked myself, ‘What have I learned?’ When I saw my first production at OHIO Lancaster, The 39 Steps, the program inspired me and I saw it as a valuable learning opportunity. I wanted to develop those skills as well. Because of my involvement, I learned the technical aspect of lighting, sound, set design, and costuming. This breadth of experience has prepared me for my new role as the Assistant Theatre Manager at the Weathervane Playhouse in Newark, Ohio.”


This season is full of exciting opportunities for students and community members. This is the first season of all musicals with Jekyll and Hyde The Musical opening April 4 through April 7. Legally Blonde auditions are quickly approaching on April 26 through the 28th and are open to the community. The show opens, and is a featured event, during the historic Lancaster Festival.


For more information on all the theatre options at Ohio University Lancaster, visit  or contact Theatre Director

A. Victor Jones at 


Photo credit: Jerri Shafer