Mystery Loves Company: The Zanesville Community Theatre

The stage is empty and guests have yet to fill their seats.

The front house of the Zanesville Community Theatre is quiet, but the back dressing room is bustling with commotion and laughter. The actors are getting ready for their fourth performance of Agatha Christie’s The Hollow. The Theatre president, Jillian Von Gunten is sitting in a chair getting her hair done by the show’s director, Melanie—who also happens to be Jillian’s mother. Sarah Gantzer, who plays Gerda Cristow, prances in with real-life husband Jared in tow. She perches in front of a mirror, applying red lipstick and singing along to the Chicago tune, “Cell Block Tango,” as Jillian teases her. On stage the actors compose themselves with seriousness and vigor, but behind the scenes they are just one big happy family. The Theatre houses 92 seats, only 19 of which were left open Friday evening, not accounting for walk-ins. The costume closet has a large collection of both new and vintage clothing, most of which are donated from community members and participants of the shows.

Below: 17-year-old Cary Underwood applies lipstick in the dressing room, preparing for her first “grown-up” role as Midge.


Below: Katelyn Baughman as Doris.


Below: Jared Gantzer as Detective Sergeant Penny.


Below: Eric Blake as Sir Henry Angkatell.


Below: Cary Underwood as Midge Harvey.

Mast_SEO_Zanesville_0488 (1)

Below: Jan Smith, who plays Inspector Colquhoun of Scotland Yard, reviews his lines before the show.


Below: Von Gunten and Hendershott share a moment on stage, as their characters participate in a secret love affair.


Below: Von Gunten’s, Underwood’s and Chase’s characters speculate on the odd behaviors of Lady Lucy Angkatell, played by Sally Goins.


Below: Steven Hendershott as Dr. John Cristow.



Southeast Ohio strives to spotlight the culture and community within our 21-county region and aims to inform, entertain and inspire readers with stories that hit close to home. Southeast Ohio is the first student-produced regional magazine in the country. Every semester, approximately 25 students enrolled in Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism produce an issue of the magazine, which is published in print twice a year. The staff generates story ideas, conducts interviews, writes stories and designs the magazine in only 15 weeks. The magazine has won several Regional Mark of Excellence Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.