Stillwater News Press

Local News

March 16, 2013

Oil baron’s story brought to stage

STILLWATER, Okla. — A story based on the legacy of an Oklahoma oil baron will be the subject of an upcoming local play.

Town & Gown Theatre will present “The Broken Statue” starting Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The production will run from Thursday through March 24 and March 28-31.

The play is adapted from a book of the same title by Shawnee native Bob Perry about oil baron E.W. Marland and his life’s trials and successes.

The show will be directed by Frank Berry. The idea for the local production of the play, which debuted in 2011, came from Berry being informed of the book and play when he viewed an OETA special a year ago.

“I had talked to a few people that were directing down at Town and Gown and said you ought to direct that,” Berry said.

However, Berry decided to submit the idea to the play committee himself and agreed to be the play’s director. The committee placed the production on the schedule.

“I’ve had a year to worry about it,” he said.

Berry said he has no previous experience directing community theatre. He has been attending Town & Gown as an audience member for 55 years, he said.

“This directing experience was a lot like taking a long trip in the Old West on a stagecoach,” he said.

“I started out imagining all the exciting places I’d see and adventures I’d have and I ended up just hoping I’d get there alive.”

However, rehearsals have been going well, he said.

“Rehearsals are down to the final technical rehearsal,” he said. “We’ve been through all the scenes three or four times.”

Berry said Perry wrote the novel and then distilled it to fit a play. He said there are two versions of “The Broken Statue” — one in which many of the adults, including Lydie, his niece, and George, his nephew, are shown as their younger selves and one version in which that part of the story is cut.

Marland Oil Company was based in Ponca City. Much of the story takes place in Stillwater.

Berry has more in common with E.W. Marland than many may know. His grandfather, James E. Berry, was Marland’s lieutenant governor when he became governor of Oklahoma in 1935. Berry’s grandfather served in the position from 1935 to 1938, he said.

“Bob Perry knew that we were going to do it, so he put in a three-page scene with my grandfather in it who is going to be played by my twin brother, whose name is also James Berry,” he said.

In the scene, Marland visits Berry’s grandfather at his home in Stillwater.

“I am excited about it, of course,” he said.

As for the story itself, it is kept moving through a number of characters, one whom relays the story named “Old Charlie” who tells the story of the broken statue of Lydie to his granddaughter.

“There’s drama and humor,” Berry said. “It’s basically a modern social drama.”

Berry said those attending can expect a good time.

“They can expect local history portrayed with humor and drama and excellent acting by a local community theater that’s been around for more than 60 years,” he said.

For more information about the play and to purchase tickets, visit www.townand-gown.org or call 372-9122.

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