Ohio Valley Summer Theater Presents “The Sapphire Comb”

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Ohio Valley Summer Theater will present the children's play The Sapphire Comb Dec. 9-11 at ARTS/West.

Directed by OU School of Theater Visiting Professor Rebecca Vernooy, the play examines the continuing struggle for balance and survival between humankind and the earth’s natural forces.

"I think a lot of the play addresses our relationship to nature and how we care for, or neglect it," said Vernooy.

An original tale by Moses Goldberg, The Sapphire Comb is centered around 11-year-old Hannah (played by Sonja Mata), who waves her “magic” sapphire comb, a remembrance from her mother, over the water each day while singing and dancing to commune with the River Spirit. In a fit of anger, her ferryman father (Levi McGrath) throws the comb into the river.

Later, as the spring floods rise and recede, Hannah’s comb is found on the bank and the puzzle of her mother’s disappearance is solved with a bittersweet reunion.

The Sapphire Comb is Vernooy's first foray into children's theater, and it's been a positive experience.

"I've had a great time doing it," she said. "I decided to say yes to the offer from OVST because it was very movement-oriented and I thought the piece was lovely."

The cast is made up of Ohio University students who decided to stay in Athens over the winter break.

"The cast chose to act in the play over winter break for the experience; it's not part of a class," said Vernooy. "Five of the cast members are from the junior class BFA Performance Program, and Sonja, who plays Hannah, is a senior in the Performance program."

Ohio Valley Summer Theater, now in its 60th season of community-university theater productions, is performing the play for Athens County grade schoolers this week. Community performances will take place Dec. 9 and 10 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. For more information, visit