An exciting mixture of education and entertainment, Ohio Chautauqua will travel to four historic communities across the state this summer. The tour begins in Defiance (June 4-8). Evening performances will take place at Auglaize Village, a collection of historic buildings preserving the area’s nineteenth century-history. Follow the tour during its second week in Milan (June 11-15). The New England-style village near Lake Erie will hold evening performances in their bustling town square. Geauga County (June 18-22) is the setting for the third week of the tour. Century Village in Burton, an authentic representation of a Western Reserve Village from 1798 to the end of the nineteenth century, will host all evening performances. The tour ends in Warren (June 25-29), where Ohio Chautauqua is a community tradition. Evening performances will be hosted in their beautiful downtown park, which is adjacent to Warren’s town square.

Ohio Chautauqua 2019: Modern Legends features living history performances of five historic figures from the mid-twentieth century whose lives and work left a larger-than-life imprint on the American psyche. This year the program will feature James Holmes Armstead as Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the first African-American general officer in the US Air Force; Fred Blanco as Cesar Chavez, labor leader and civil rights activist; Susan Marie Frontczak as Erma Bombeck, famed author of the popular newspaper column, “At Wit’s End”; Jeremy Meier as Robert F. Kennedy, a politician and lawyer; and Karen Vuranch as Julia Child, cookbook author and beloved TV personality. This year’s Ohio Chautauqua scholars will travel from across the nation to portray these modern legends.


J. Holmes Armstead PhD (Benjamin O. Davis Jr.)

Dr. J. Holmes Armstead is a retired professor of Strategy and International law from the US Naval War College. He has taught international law, strategy and national security policy for nearly 40 years. Professor Armstead has served on faculties at Stanford University, Pepperdine University, the University of California. the University of Nevada, Southern University the US Naval Postgraduate School, Lewis University, the Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University. He participated in negotiations enlarging NATO with the accession of Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Albania, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Dr. Armstead has assisted in drafting constitutional reforms in Montenegro, South Africa, Poland, the Congo, and Lithuania and is currently Of Counsel to the American Bar Association Office of Human Rights. Dr. Armstead lectures on International law at the Austrian Academy of Higher Military Studies in Vienna.


Fred Blanco (Cesar Chavez)

Fred Blanco has appeared on stage and screen for 20 years, performing with the national touring troupe, Traveling Lantern, and the street theatre company, The Bad Puppets. Featured on radio and television, his solo production, “The Stories of Cesar Chavez” has reached theatre audiences for the last 12 years. In that time, he has worked with the LAUSD and L.A. County Office of Education to bring theatre into the classroom. He has brought the show to the famed Chicano theatre, Su Teatro in Denver, CO, and The National Hispanic Cultural Center, in Albuquerque, NM, just to name a few.

Blanco has toured theatre festivals internationally bringing home BEST OF FRINGE from Canada and San Francisco as well as the prestigious BRICKENDEN Award for Best Touring performance in London, Ontario. In addition to his theatrical show, “The Stories of Cesar Chavez,” he speaks as Chavez for the Chautauquas around the country.



Susan Marie Frontczak (Erma Bombeck)

Susan Marie Frontczak has given over 700 presentations as Marie Curie, Mary Shelley, Irene Castle, Clara Barton, and Eleanor Roosevelt across 38 of the United States, and abroad in her 18 years as a Living History scholar. Susan Marie also works with both adults and youth to develop their own living history presentations. She authored the Young Chautauqua handbooks for Colorado Humanities and works with students throughout the state. As a teen, Susan Marie competed with her mother to see which of them could snag the monthly Good Housekeeping magazine first, in order to read Erma Bombeck’s column. Now the challenge is to convey Bombeck’s humor along with the person behind the persona.





Jeremy Meier (Robert F. Kennedy)

Jeremy Meier is a professor of theater at Owens Community College in northwest Ohio. He teaches acting and has directed nineteen student productions at the school including Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet. He also has adapted and directed texts for the stage, including Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell. Meier has created several original solo performances for Ohio Chautauqua, including Robert F. Kennedy, John Dillinger and Oliver Hazard Perry. In 2016, Meier was awarded a grant by Ohio Humanities to pilot the state’s first Chautauqua Training Program for new scholars learning to develop original figures based on historical figures.




Karen Vuranch (Julia Child)

Award-winning storyteller and actress Karen Vuranch has toured throughout the US with her traditional storytelling and living history performances—including Julia Child, Clara Barton, Edith Wharton, Louisa May Alcott, and Belle Starr—and has completed five tours of Wales and England with Coal Camp Memories. Vuranch also performs a WWII play, Homefront, and produces audience-participation murder mysteries with her traveling troupe, the “In Cahoots Players.” She has recorded a CD of Potluck: Stories and Songs about Women, Wisdom and Food and a DVD of Coal Camp Memories. In addition to her work as a storyteller and actress, Karen is the Director of the Theatre Department at Concord University. In addition to teaching theatre courses, she directs at least two mainstage productions a year.