Juggling the page and the rural stage

File Under: Outcomes

Ellie Zumbach ’19, a New Philadelphia native, continues to make her mark on the regional arts scene.

A former member of the Malone Chancel Players and recipient of the 2018 Best Acting Award for her lead role in Before I Break at the Malone Open Frame Film Festival, Zumbach is currently portraying Ali Graham in the Ohio Star Theater’s A Simple Sanctuary. This new musical is based on a novel by popular writer Beverly Lewis and her husband David Lewis, one of two books they have written together.

“The musical is about a young woman who is on the run from her past and she finds safety in an Amish community,” said Zumbach. “I play the best friend, who she leaves behind, and my character works together with her husband and his best friend to solve the mystery of why she disappeared. It’s such fun that I can do this as my day job and I’m so grateful to do what I love every day!” 

A Simple Sanctuary was created by the Blue Gate Musicals company, known for their creation of original and meaningful productions, of Broadway-caliber, that capture the beauties and challenges of the plain life of Amish community. Blue Gate Musicals, LLC (BGM) is headquartered in Nashville and has three partner theatres presenting their productions, including Ohio Star in Sugarcreek.

“Most of their actors are from out-of-state at the partner theatres,” Zumbach said. “It’s rare in many cases for local actors to be cast, but they will consider local talent. I am very blessed that a professional theatre gave me a chance straight out of college.”

As Zumbach’s career unfolds, she wants to remain on the cutting-edge of changes in the arts world.

“Usually theatre is assumed to only be accessible in populated city areas, but the arts world is changing,” she said. “Theatre is coming to all areas, including rural ones such as Sugarcreek. Blue Gate, Ohio Star, and I are so happy to be a part of that movement and change.”

A young artist who works an unconventional schedule, Zumbach also teaches theatre and creative writing classes at the Holmes Center for the Arts. She continues to attend auditions for next year and beyond, and is working on rewrites for her musical A Mess of Flowers in addition to the working draft of a novel she hopes to publish one day.

“My Malone experiences gave me the confidence to work outside my comfort zone, taught me to adjust easily to different venues and audiences, and find new ways to keep my characters fresh,” Zumbach said. “I am grateful that our faculty helped me hone so many skills at the same time, from the stage to the page, so that I would be ready for the real world as a 21st century artist.”

A Simple Sanctuary runs at Ohio Star Theater until November 9, 2019.