Posted on

Crosier’s life takes stage

Crosier’s life takes stage
Crosier’s life takes stage
Playwright EllaRose Chary, center, speaks with Sheryl Scharf, left, and Jo Ann Mathews at a reception in her honor Friday evening at the Frederick Porter Griffin Center for Local History and Genealogy in Corydon. Chary's latest play, "Sidney D. Crosier: An Unfinished Portrait," made its debut later that night at Hayswood Theatre in Corydon. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor (click for larger version)

A play written about a Harrison Countian who became somewhat of a renowned artist made its debut last weekend in Corydon.
‘Sidney D. Crosier: An Unfinished Portrait’ chronicles the life of the man who was born in Boone Township, in southern Harrison County, in 1918 and died in 1930.
The Harrison County Arts! Inc., sponsored a nationwide contest that resulted in the play that was funded by a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission.
Gary native EllaRose Chary was the winning playwright.
‘I’ve always loved theater and musicals, in particular,’ said the 28-year-old who attended the production at Hayswood Theatre in Corydon. ‘I always wanted to be an actor.’
While a student at Valparaiso High School, Chary took a musical theater writing class and enjoyed it.
‘I kept writing musicals in college and that inspired me to take playwriting,’ she said. ‘I had some really great teachers who encouraged me to keep at it and to go to NYU for grad school. At some point, I decided I like writing more than acting and have focused on that.’
Chary earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre arts and American civilization from Brown University in Providence, R.I. She followed with a master’s in musical theatre writing from New York University Tisch School of the Arts.
A friend of hers in New York saw information about the contest on the Internet and forwarded it to Chary.
‘She said, ‘You’re from Indiana; you might be interested in this’,’ Chary said.
During a reception for her Friday evening at the Frederick Porter Griffin Center for Local History and Genealogy in Corydon before the play’s debut, Chary told those in attendance that research for the play was somewhat difficult because ‘you can’t ask a dead man’ about his life.
Her research included materials collected by former Harrison Countian Larry Ordner, now of Evansville, who has a collection of Crosier’s art. (Ordner also loaned some of the pieces for the performances of the play Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.) Chary also spoke with Ordner and local artist Larry Morgan about what they had learned about Crosier, who apparently began with charcoals to sketch nature scenes in Harrison County. In 1893, when he was 36, Crosier was accepted into the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
‘I supplemented other details by looking into real-life characters like Newton Weatherly and Duveneck,’ Chary said. ‘I also looked up who was at the Academy of Art in Cincinnati at the same time Crosier was. Then, last year, I took a trip to Corydon and some members of Harrison County Arts! and Larry Ordner took me all around, to the genealogy library (which has some of Crosier’s artwork), to Crosier’s gravestone and also to meet with some of the living Crosier family.’
That was Chary’s first time to Harrison County. She had not returned until this past weekend.
Chary said it took a little over a year to write the play. However, she was in communication with Bob Trinkle, who directed ‘An Unfinished Portrait,’ so she ‘had a sense of how it was going.’
The cast included Tom Luce as young Crosier, Charles Swarens as old Crosier, Emily Trinkle as Crosier’s mother, Matilda, and Laura Van Fossen (Eleanor), Jake Minton (George), Sarah Kincaid Coffman (Katherine), Hollis Bruce (Volkert), Rick Pauley (Sawyier), Scott Smith (Cousin John), Amanda Kincaid (Annabelle Pratt, ensemble), Charlie Douglas (Mrs. M) and Mary Moore (ensemble).
Through additional research, the cast learned that Smith is related to Katherine (Katherine Mabel Adams Bulliet, 1890-1945), who was tutored by Crosier after he returned home to care for his ailing mother.
Chary, who wasn’t sure what to expect since it was a new play and she had never seen a show at Hayswood Theatre, was impressed with the production.
‘Bob and the cast really made use of all of the resources they had and did a great job bringing a new play to life, which can be difficult, especially without the playwright around,’ she said. ‘I was very pleased with it … Everyone was so enthusiastic, and you could tell (the cast) was having fun and giving it their all. I thought they landed the jokes that needed to be landed and some of the emotional moments that are tricky to pull off were done flawlessly, especially the scene between Sidney and Sawyier near the top of the second act, where Sawyier tells Sidney not to give up his scholarship (to Europe).’
Crosier did pass up the opportunity to study in Europe, opting instead to return to Harrison County.
Those involved behind the scenes besides Bob Trinkle were Rita Hight (production manager), Mary Moore (stage manager), Larry Morgan (Crosier forgeries), Elizabeth Swarens (costume consultant and board liaison), Scott Smith (set construction), Ken Hight (light technician), Brian Coffman (sound technician), Larry Morgan (posters and programs) and Jeff Ketterman (sound creation).
Chary hopes the play will get showings elsewhere.
‘I would love to take the show to New York or anywhere else,’ she said. ‘I think the next step is going through the script and making any revisions to (it) that I noticed needed to be tweaked based on the performance. Then, I would like to try to get it published or licensed, which will make it easier to spread the word about the show.
‘I actually think it would be great to have the show done in other places in Indiana and in the region around Harrison County since there is a hometown connection to the subject matter.’
Chary said it can be difficult to get shows produced in New York because of the competition and expense.
‘I also think it might be challenging to bring the show to New York right now because the subject matter is unfamiliar,’ she said. ‘However, if we do it places outside of New York, where it might be a better fit at first, and it starts to get attention, then it might be easier to bring it to New York after that.’
Chary’s other work includes ‘The Daguerreo-Type,’ ‘The Great NYC Treasure Quest,’ ‘Left to Our Own Devices’ (a Ronald M. Ruble New Play Festival finalist) and ‘Be the Death of Me.’ Her work has been featured at the Lincoln Center, Joe’s Pub, NYMF, Cherry Lane Theatre, Goodspeed Opera house, ACT Theatre New Voices in Seattle and the Slide Cabaret Festival in Sydney, Australia.