Stagestuck — Appleseed Amphitheater in Limbo

A venue that was, in effect, stillborn. Pretty much mothballed after a dismal opening season.

MIFFLIN, OHIO — The gate was open when I drove by the mothballed Johnny Appleseed amphitheater this afternoon. So I pulled in to have a look around.

About a hundred yards past the gate, a crane loaded logs onto a tractor-trailer. The logging equipment reminded me of vultures, picking a carcass. The forest surrounding the amphitheater belongs to Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. They’re still looking for a way to repurpose the facility.

A boarded up ticket booth and a sad looking concrete statue of Johnny Appleseed spoke volumes. The play — a musical that some deemed “too Disneyesque” — was a resounding flop. The center was built at a time attendance was flagging at other outdoor dramas in the state.

Still, you had to admire their determination, the folks who dared to dream big and roll the dice.

They lost. The Appleseed Center and two shuttered bars nearby sit like scabs upon the landscape in a corridor once considered promising.

The sign says it all.


Vines begin to consume galvanized steel apple plaques at the back of the grandstand. A light tower stands sentry — for no reason other than a prolonged death watch.

A sad looking Johnny Appleseed — his hat damaged by the elements, teeters on its base.
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4 thoughts on “Stagestuck — Appleseed Amphitheater in Limbo

  1. Sadly, this was before its time and during a period of general fiscal distress. Not only that, too many fingers in the pie during the writing of the musical. I didn’t think the production was Disney-esque. I thought the music was so unsingable and tuneless that even the performers didn’t believe in it and the script clumsy and production choppy. They should have patterned it a lot less effortfully “different from all others” and more like Steven Vincent Binet’s “John Brown’s Body” another sad story that was made into a wonderful musical that brought tears, but sent folks home singing. Once the area has become the summertime attraction that it will become in another 20 years (or maybe even less) somebody should try a new version. It was just the wrong time and the wrong composer. Appleseed Center will have its day, I think, but we probably won’t be here to see it. Appleseed Center is physically a monument. It will last until time for it to become what it was meant to be.

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    • You put it better than I could. The general response was, as you said, that the music seemed unsingable and tuneless. Which is what I meant by Disneyesque. That seemed to be a common compliant.

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  2. My suggestion for the Amphitheater – leave it to rot away, but charge admission to photographers who like to take pictures of ruins and rust. Maybe add a couple falling down barns, and some old cars rusting into the ground. Include a “taggers art” section, for those who like their ruins Graffiti covered.

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