It is not very often that a play writer’s production is written and shown in his hometown. For Pontiac native Ben Diaz, though, this dream has become a reality.
    “Nobody told me I couldn’t write a play, so I did,” Diaz said. “It took me a long time and there was a lot of trial and error fixing things as I went through. I think I have a pretty good script.”
    Diaz’s play “The Vermillion Epic,” with musical help from his former teacher Krista Chmiel, will be performed by the Vermillion Players group at Chautauqua Park this weekend.
    The play is a modern-day production aimed at people of all ages about a magical land with goblins, elves and dragons. In the play, three heroes must return relics to their homes while casting magical spells and solving puzzles together.
    For Diaz, Chautauqua Park is where he grew up, making this opportunity all the more special for him.
    “When I was a kid I did shows out at the park,” Diaz said. “Growing up we didn’t live but four or five blocks from the park. I did a few shows and then when I grew out of them I stopped doing them for a long time. The first play I came back to be in was ‘And the Winner Is’ by Julie Peterson, we went to high school together. I thought it was really cool she wrote a play.”
    The same can be said for Chmiel, who was born in Pontiac but grew up in Flanagan. Chmiel has been involved with The Vermillion Players for years, citing that she has been the choreographer for the kids shows there for 28 years.
    “I don’t think anyone can say they’ve gotten to do that,” Chmiel said about having the opportunity to show her music to the venue she has been at for so long. “Only a handful in Pontiac have written a show in Pontiac. It’s fantastic, it’s such a unique script that if you miss it you’re missing something that has never been put on a stage before.”
    Chmiel also has a strong background in music to go along with her experience in theatrical productions. Her parents are both music teachers, which helped guide her to return to school to get a degree in music after nearly 20 years as a cosmetologist.
    After Diaz, one of her former students, approached her about helping him with the play’s music, she was ecstatic.
    “I’ve known Ben forever,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed every step of the way. He wanted to make it so the kids could connect with the music. It’s been such an awesome reunion.”
    While Diaz and Chmiel have done a lot of the writing, Chmiel pointed out that numerous other people have helped in the music area.
    Joe Diaz, Ben’s brother and the bass player, has expanded on the simple melodies of the music. Henry Woodburn has handled the percussion line, while Sandy Erickson and Kevin Kuska play the piano so Chmiel can be the conductor instead of having to play the music.
    Both Diaz and Chmiel have also pointed out how awesome the cast has been throughout the process.
    As far as the future goes, Diaz hopes he can expand on the expected success of “The Vermillion Epic” and grow as a scriptwriter.
    “Joe and I have talked about doing a Christmas play,” Diaz said. “There are some ideas we definitely have in the works, but they are just in the idea phase right now. We talked about taking this play to other places. We talked about doing it after we are done here so that way if there are any kinks and bugs we can get them out before hand.”