Otterbein Theatre and Dance Offers a Modern Take on a Classic Play

Posted Oct 23, 2020

Otterbein University Theatre and Dance continues its reimagined fall season with Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People,” running from Oct. 29-Nov. 1.  

In this tautly constructed drama, siblings face off in a battle of political ambitions and moral integrity when a water contamination crisis puts their community in peril. “An Enemy of the People” unfolds like a contemporary political thriller with a head-on clash between public health and economic well-being. Although it was published in 1882, Ibsen’s depiction of a lone individual fighting to make the truth be heard remains relevant — and Otterbein’s production has many modern updates. 

Abby Messina ’22 plays Dr. Maggie Stockmann, the protagonist of the play. She explains the concept: “It is set as though the story is taking place over a Zoom meeting — which is a very familiar world right now for all of us — and is more focused on the language of the script than it would be on stage. While this might have been a big ask a year or so ago, this format is just regular life to us as college performers.” 

“Unlike a live production, which would have movement onstage and lots of visuals, the online format brings the show a little closer to home in the current climate,” Messina added. 

Another contemporary twist on the play is the original music by Stephen Blauch ’22. He describes his score as “reminiscent of 1990s and early-2000s grunge and punk rock.” 

Blauch said the chance to write music for the play came after an earlier disappointment.  

“This opportunity has meant everything to me. After writing the majority of a score for Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” for an in-class presentation of the show, the piece was cancelled due to the pandemic. However, the director, Lenny Leibowitz, reached out to me and generously offered me the chance to create music for this show,” he said. “This is my first major debut of some of my original works, and I can’t wait to see how it is received.” 

In order to safely produce the play, the performances are filmed in advance remotely, edited into scenes, and streamed online with captioning provided. Due to the virtual streaming, viewers from across the country can enjoy the production in their own homes. All they need is an Internet connection and browser. 

Messina is not surprised that Otterbein Theatre and Dance has adapted to the pandemic.  

“Theatre is far more flexible than we think it is. We assume that if it’s theatre, it’s got to be done live or in close proximity to other people, and masks just make theatre impossible. That is not the case. At the end of the day, theatre is about telling a story. And you’d be surprised how possible it is to tell a story through almost any format, with almost any obstacles,” she said. 


“An Enemy of the People” 

By Henrik Ibsen. 

Translated by R. Farquharson Sharp. 

Oct. 29-Nov. 1, 2020  

Tickets cost $15 per device.  

Call 614-823-1109 or visit for more information or to purchase tickets. The box office is open for in-person and phone sales from 12-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, in Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove St., Westerville. 


All performances are streamed virtually online. 

Thursday, Oct. 29       7:30 p.m.  

Friday, Oct. 30             8 p.m. 

Saturday, Oct. 31        8 p.m. 

Sunday, Nov. 1            2 p.m. 


Director:  Lenny Leibowitz 

Scenic Designer: Rob Johnson 

Costume Designer: Thomas Martin (Class of 2021) 

Sound Designer: Doc Davis 

Film Editor: Kaelin Hagler 

Stage Manager: Carly Salyer (Class of 2021) 

With original music by Stephen Blauch (Class of 2022), Music Direction by Lydia Namakydoost (Class of 2022). 


Dr. Maggie Stockmann      Abby Messina 

Peter Stockmann                Trevin Parker 

Hovstad                                Marissa Davis 

Aslaksan                               Emma Lou Andrews 

Billing                                    Nijah Dent 

Morgan Kiil                           Madeleine Norton 

Petra                                      Hannah Line 

Katherine Stockmann         Anna Sheridan 

Ellie                                        Grace Guichard 

Morten                                  Chase Pittman 

Captain Horster                    Sarah Simmons 

Ensemble: Aiden Behrens, Lucy Breedlove, Lindsey Cernek, Desmond Fernandez, Max Pinson, Taylor Reister, Beth Sanford, Cason Zoch