News Column

HeldenFiles: 'Shawshank' celebration coming to Ohio filming locations

July 6, 2013


July 06--If you are thinking about what to do on Labor Day weekend, consider a celebration of a movie classic.

The prison drama The Shawshank Redemption, based on a Stephen King work and starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, will mark 20 years since its theatrical premiere in 2014. But the folks in Mansfield, Ashland and Upper Sandusky are noting that it's been 20 years since the movie was filmed in the area with a series of events beginning Aug. 30.

You can find a detailed rundown at, which will take you to the site of the Mansfield/Richland County Convention and Visitors Bureau. You can even get a jump on the events by following the "Shawshank Trail" driving tour of movie locations now. But if you want to join other fans of the film in celebrating it, events set for the weekend include:

--Self-guided tours of the Ohio State Reformatory, which served as Shawshank State Prison in the movie, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug, 30 and 31 and Sept. 1.

--Wagon tours at Malabar Farm State Park to Pugh Cabin (setting of the movie's opening scene) and past the Shawshank oak tree (seriously damaged in a 2011 storm, but part of it still standing), from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on each day.

--Self-guided tours of other locations in the film.

--A special showing of the film at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 in the Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield, replicating the 1994 premiere there.

--A cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31 in the reformatory.

--Appearances by Bob Gunton, the fine character actor who played Warden Norton in the film; James Kisicki, who played the bank manager; and Scott Mann, who played the lover of Linda Dufresne.

For more information, check out the web address mentioned above, or contact Jodie Puster at 800-642-8282, ext. 32, or

It's odd to think that it's been close to 20 years since the movie appeared because it seems to have always been there. I can't tell you when or where or how I saw it for the first time, only that I have seen it in pieces and as a whole more times than I can count.

During the recent holiday we spent some of our family time revisiting old movies, among them The Princess Bride and The Wedding Singer. In many ways, and after very many viewings, they feel as timeless as Shawshank. I don't remember the first viewing of them either. After all, as we all spend more and more time watching movies at home, there's no specific ritual of going out to a theater attached to some films that we discover and build a loving relationship with -- no transcendent moment. Instead, there is a series of smaller moments, of coming across a movie again and again. And then we look up, and years have gone by -- 15 for The Wedding Singer, or nearly 20 for Shawshank, or 25-plus for Princess Bride.

--Bookshelf. I spent a large part of a recent vacation just reading for fun, including mysteries by Dana Stabenow (author of the excellent Kate Shugak series), Robert Crais (Elvis Cole) and Lee Child (Jack Reacher), as well as Bill Bryson's nonfiction chronicle A Walk in the Woods. If you want to be even happier about sitting out in the sun, check out Bryson's account of trying to hike the Appalachian Trail.

But TV books are never very far from my nightstand, so I recently went through Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's account of the making of the much-loved Mary Tyler Moore Show. Armstrong's account is especially focused on the show's place in the history of women: women characters on TV, women writers for the show, the women in the cast and the women in the audience who saw someone like themselves in Mary Richards. And that's an effective context for considering the show, and the place of women on TV now.

But the book feels thin in places, as it unsuccessfully juggles many people and stories. For one thing, there seems to be much more to be said about Treva Silverman, for whom MTM was a breakthrough as a writer and who is prominently featured in the book; still, Armstrong briefly discusses Silverman's collaboration with Michael Bennett but never gives the name of the stage production they were working on. (It was called Scandal, by the way.) While she refers several times to Room 222, which had involved MTM creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, she fails to describe the show correctly.

--Perspective. The new issue of People magazine has Matthew Perry talking about his struggles with addiction, his sobriety today and his work on drug issues. And the best thing in the story may be his describing how he wants to be remembered: "I'd like Friends to be listed behind helping people."

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-006-3582 or


(c)2013 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters