The Ohio State University at Newark

Ohio State Newark Student Learns from Community Members in 1776 Production

NEWARK, Ohio - Before auditioning, The Ohio State University at Newark student Anna Yoder didn’t know anything about the play 1776. Now, the 19-year-old sophomore from Fredericktown is playing one of the leading roles in this summer’s special production. 1776 is being put on by The Black Box Theater at Ohio State Newark and the Licking County Players (LCP). It opens on Thursday, June 30.

“Since the eighth grade, I was in every single theater production at Fredericktown High School,” said Yoder. “I missed the connection you form with other actors; I missed the lights on the stage. I knew I had to do it again. I missed it so much. So, I decided to try out for 1776. I had no idea I would get such an important role.”

In fact, Yoder didn’t think she would get a part at all. There were only two roles for women in the show. However, Yoder was selected for the role of Martha Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s wife.

1776 chronicles the birth of our nation as our forefathers struggle to craft the Declaration of Independence. The play follows John Adams (Charles Hupp) of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin (Dennis Kohler) of Pennsylvania, and Richard Henry Lee (Todd Lemmon) and Thomas Jefferson (PJ Gassman) of Virginia as they attempt to convince the members of the second Continental Congress to vote for independence from the shackles of the British monarchy by signing the Declaration of Independence.

“I was very surprised when I got the role,” said Yoder. “When they called to tell me, all I could say was ‘I accept.’ I couldn’t say anything else. I was so shocked. It was the best possible thing that could have happened to me.”

“Anna is truly a bright spot in 1776. She was the obvious choice for Martha Jefferson,” said Director Edie Norlin. “She has a light, lyrical voice that is shown to great advantage in Martha's song. She also has wonderful stage presence, bringing a youthful and lustful quality to the character.”

Performances run from Thursday through Saturday, June 30 and July 1-2, 2016. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. in the Alford Performing Arts Hall in the John Gilbert Reese Center. Adult tickets are $20 and senior, student, veteran and active military tickets are $15 and may be purchased at

Yoder hopes this is only the beginning of her work with The Black Box Theater. She plans to audition for future productions at Ohio State Newark because she has learned so much during this one.

“Working with the LCP, I’ve learned to be confident. When I mess up, I own it,” said Yoder. “I’ve learned how to move on and grow from it. I’ve also developed the ability to make my facial expressions so much bigger.”

“Every production I've directed at Ohio State Newark has had a combination of both students and community members,” said Norlin. “The benefits have been tremendous and are the greatest strengths of the Black Box productions. Community members often times bring vast experience to the performing table while students bring a freshness of perspective and talent. Great friendships have been forged and performance standards invariably rise.”

Many people in the 23-member cast are LCP members and/or have done productions with the organization in the past. There are four Ohio State Newark students in this production. Yoder is an integrated social studies major and is minoring in theatre and geography. She hopes to be a teacher one day and work on theatre productions with her students.

“The Black Box Theater and this production have really helped me learn more about who I am and what I want,” said Yoder. “It’s been truly exciting.”

The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that’s challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors. It’s where learning comes to life. Research, study abroad and service learning opportunities prepare students for their careers in ways they never expected.