Backstage front and center: Stars aligning for contest, Murphy’s 100th

WILMINGTON — The excitement on Main Street is building as the Murphy Theatre prepares to kick off its 100th anniversary season and show off restoration work performed over the summer.

First on the theatre’s calendar: CMH Regional Health System presents Murphy Theatre’s Dancing with the Stars at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23.

According to director Timothy Larrick, this year’s theme is sure to engage the audience.

“Our celebrity contestants will be taking the stage to dance to ‘Music from the Movies’,” said Larrick. “The program will feature some iconic tunes from iconic movies – songs that both our dancers and our audience will relate to.”

Title sponsored by CMH Regional Health System, the event stands as the largest community fundraiser of the theatre’s season with this year’s funds raised earmarked for additional restoration.

Upcoming renovation projects will augment work performed this summer by EverGreene Architectural Arts — the firm also responsible for restoration work on Music Hall in Cincinnati — and more than 250 other historic theaters.

“When folks come back to the theater this season, they are going to be amazed — truly amazed — at the makeover inside of the theater,” said Larrick. “The dome has been cleaned and restored, the drapes have been cleaned, and the work on the cornice above the theatre is almost done.

“Next will be the restoration of the inner lobby to its original state. The theatre was beautiful before, but now it’s spectacular!”

The celebrity dancers will be competing for three awards: the Trophy of Champions, awarded to the star who received the most votes (in the form of monetary donations); the Judges’ Choice ( based on scores awarded by the judges); and the Audience Favorite(selected via audience response ).

Last year’s event raised more than $44,000 to aid in theatre restoration.

This year’s stars/contestants are:

• Fadi Al-Ghawi. Facility Manager, Ahresty Wilmington Corporation

• Jody Ames, Dentist, Chesnut & Ames

• Jacob DeHart, Vice President and Controller, Wilmington Savings Bank

• Brenda Elmore, Director of Supply Chain, Alkermes

• Jim Graham, Retired Pastor representing the residents of Cape May

• Kelsey Swindler, Director of Marketing and Physician Recruitment, CMH Regional Health System and City Council Member, at-large

• Jane Taylor, Art Teacher, Wilmington Public Schools

• Marian Miller, Executive Assistant to the Mayor, City of Wilmington

• Bekah Muchmore, Host at the General Denver Hotel and graduate student and graduate assistant at Wright State University

• John W. “Tim” Rudduck, Judge, Clinton County Court of Common Pleas

This year’s stars will be joined by professional dancers from the Wilmington Performing Arts Studio. Choreographer and dancer Cole Haugh will be joined by two of his instructors, Ami Gallagher-Filip and Cassie Smith, to provide the stars with guidance and instruction for the competition.

The polls are open!

Voting for your favorite star can be done online at, over the phone at 937-382-3643, or a check can be mailed to the Murphy Theatre at 50 W. Main St., Wilmington, OH 45177. Be sure to include the name of the person you are voting for on the memo line of the check. Audience members will also be able to donate/vote after each performance.

This event is almost sold out; however event tickets ($15 each and $35 for box seats) can still be purchased in person at the Murphy Theatre, 50 W. Main St., by phone at 937-382-3643 or online at

Murphy Theatre box office hours are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

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The dancers’ costumes are racked and ready to go. dancers’ costumes are racked and ready to go. Kim Law | Mudpie Photos

The 2017 Stars are, from left, Jason DeHart, Jody Ames, Tim Rudduck, Fadi Al-Ghawi, Jim Graham, Timothy Larrick (Director), Bekah Muchmore, Jane Taylor, Kelsey Swindler, Marian Miller. Not pictured is Brenda Elmore. 2017 Stars are, from left, Jason DeHart, Jody Ames, Tim Rudduck, Fadi Al-Ghawi, Jim Graham, Timothy Larrick (Director), Bekah Muchmore, Jane Taylor, Kelsey Swindler, Marian Miller. Not pictured is Brenda Elmore. Kim Law | Mudpie Photos Journal file photo
Stars aligning for contest, Murphy’s 100th

By Kathleen Norman

For The News Journal