When French refugees settled in Gallipolis, they brought with them a strong appreciation for the arts, resulting in the opening of the Ariel Opera House in 1895 at the height of the "opera house" movement.

Small town, BIG sounds

When Lora Lynn Snow first saw the inside of the Ariel Opera House in 1987, the first thing she noticed, of course, was the quarter-century’s worth of bird droppings that coated just about everything.

Today, thanks to that love affair — and a lot of hard work — Gallipolis (population 3,300) is home to one of the most distinctive, if unlikely, symphonies in the country. The Ohio Valley Symphony, replete with tubas, French horns, cellos, bass violins, flutes, harps, trumpets, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and more, begins its 34th season of performance at the Ariel this month.

The hills that hem in this tiny Ohio River town on the southern tip of the state are truly alive with the sound of music. 

Ohio Light Opera has been a College of Wooster summer tradition since 1979.

Summer stage

This summer, you can take a voyage on a 19th-century British ship, visit ancient Rome, witness 50 years in a couple’s bedroom, travel to the underworld, and even go to the prom, all within the confines of the Buckeye State.

Ohio Light Opera at the College of Wooster

Freedlander Theatre, 329 E. University St., Wooster, OH 44691. 330-263-2345;

At its peak, Ohio Light Opera’s program allows ambitious theater lovers to see as many as six shows in one week. While there are some devoted ticket holders who do just that, many others come to see one or two favorites.

Chris Hart

Tales from the Hart

Chris Hart dons a frock coat and sports a fancy walking stick as he prepares to portray John George Nicolay for the residents of StoryPoint Grove City, a senior living complex in suburban Columbus.

Today’s performance is “Mr. Lincoln’s White House,” a vignette set in 1900 that Hart scripted, featuring himself as Nicolay, Abraham Lincoln’s personal secretary. Nicolay pays a visit to President McKinley and relates what 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was like years before, during Lincoln’s tenure. As Hart enters the room where he’ll perform, StoryPoint residents greet him like groupies with smiles, handshakes, and fond words about his monthly presentations.