O’Leary’s ‘Pound’ To Land Off-B’way

Wheeling native and playwright Sean O’Leary’s drama, “Pound,” is set to receive its long-awaited off-Broadway debut this autumn.

An online news source, Broadway.com, reported Tuesday that actor Christopher Lloyd will star in the New York premiere of “Pound.” Lloyd will appear in the title role as American poet and critic Ezra Pound.

O’Leary’s play will have a limited run at off-Broadway’s Lion Theatre from Oct. 4-28. Kathleen Butler will direct the production.

Lloyd, a three-time Emmy winner, has appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway and in television and film productions. He is perhaps best known for his work on the TV series, “Taxi,” and the popular movie, “Back to the Future.”

In O’Leary’s envisioning, “Pound” explores the iconic poet’s remaining days at St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital, where he is confronted by a young psychiatrist who aspires to help the man who has been labeled incurable.

“Pound” premiered at the Washington Stage Guild in Washington, D.C., in 2004.

O’Leary is the author of seven full-length plays. His most recent play, “Walt Whitman’s Secret,” premiered at the Frank Theatre in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2016. It is an adaptation of Wheeling native George Fetherling’s novel of the same title. A staged reading of a large portion of “Walt Whitman’s Secret,” was presented at the Ohio County Public Library during the Wheeling Arts Fest a few years ago.

A graduate of Warwood High School and Bethany College, O’Leary now resides in Indianola, Washington. He has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Arts Club and the West Virginia Commission on The Arts. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

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Meanwhile, a memorial celebration for O’Leary’s father, Harold “Hal” O’Leary, will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 8 at Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theatre, 2118 Market St., Wheeling.

Towngate is an appropriate venue for the service because Hal O’Leary was the founder and long-time artistic director of the theater. Oglebay Institute officials named Towngate’s main stage in his honor a few years ago.

The elder O’Leary, a Wheeling native and legendary leader in the area’s theatrical community, died on June 29 at the age of 93. He achieved wide acclaim as a director and actor, both locally and regionally, and appeared in a couple of movies over his long career. His proteges included Academy Award-winning actress Frances McDormand, a Bethany alumna, who worked with Oglebay Institute’s summer theater program one year.

Sean O’Leary said the memorial program will include reminiscences from family members and other people who worked with his father “over the six decades during which he contributed to the lives of Ohio Valley residents.”

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Amy Gamble, executive director of NAMI of Greater Wheeling and author of “Bipolar Disorder, My Biggest Competitor,” will be recognized for her work in behavioral health at the Voice Awards in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Gamble, a former Olympian, is active now as a mental health advocate.

The Voice Awards is a program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Representatives said the program “recognizes those in the entertainment industry and individuals in the behavioral health community who work to increase awareness and understanding of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.”

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West Virginia University officials say WVU President Gordon Gee will be shown on an episode of “Barnwood Builders” that is set to air on the DIY network at 9 p.m. today.

Reportedly, Gee, wearing his trademark bowtie, can be seen hammering nails and sawing wood for a barn raising at WVU Jackson’s Mill in April. Led by Gee, a team of about 25 leaders from the university, including deans, vice presidents, staff and students, participated in the build.

Mark Bowe, a WVU alumnus and host of “Barnwood Builders,” coordinated the project to build a timber frame structure, made of 350-year-old wood. The project is expected to be completed this month.

The building, donated by “Barnwood Builders,” will be used as a craft education center where visitors will learn about Appalachian heritage. The building also will serve as a place for Appalachian artisans to show their work and teach others about their craft.

Bowe founded his company, Antique Cabins and Barns, in 1995. He and his crew have reclaimed more than 400 pioneer-era structures.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer.net

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