Hoping for eased-up COVID-19 restrictions, Youngstown Playhouse plans short 2021 season

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Current restrictions allow for the Playhouse to have only about 75 people, not enough to stage a production

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The people who run The Youngstown Playhouse are hoping the mass gathering restrictions are eased by next spring because they’ve planned a season for the latter half of 2021.

The Youngstown Playhouse on Glenwood Avenue bills itself as “America’s oldest on-going community theatre” — the keywords there are “on-going.” This place does not like to stop, but the COVID-19 restrictions have forced it to close.

Now, the plan is to do five shows starting next May.

It was quiet Wednesday outside The Youngstown Playhouse. The doors were locked, the parking lot was empty and there was no sign of anyone at all.

Last year at this time, the show “Dream Girls” was playing.

Then, COVID-19 hit.

“Everything is suspended as far as productions going on,” said John Cox, president of the Playhouse Board.

For its 2021 season, the musical “The Color Purple” will be staged in May, in July it’ll be “Marjorie Prime.” David Jendre will direct the musical “The Producers” in September, in October a youth theater production “The Gone Away Place” and in December “Elf The Musical.”

The exact dates have not been set, but the plan is for each show to have three-week runs instead of the traditional two.

Current restrictions allow for the Playhouse to have only about 75 people, not enough to stage a production.

“So now I’m banking on by May, at least there will be some different regulations and some different changes that we will be able to go back to at least half the full capacity, I’m hoping,” Cox said.

The first show is still eight months away, and Cox says in the interim, the Playhouse is considering doing taped shows.

“The royalty houses have all adjusted the royalties and they were trying to figure out how to get their piece of the pie for those online kind of things. They finally got that mapped out so yeah, we have a couple online shows that we’re thinking about between now and May,” Cox said.

But if the restrictions are still in place come May and only 75 can attend, the shows probably will not go on.

“But the amount of effort and all the people getting together. If it’s not safe enough for people to be together in the audience, the rehearsals and stuff like that will still be not safe either,” Cox said.

Cox also said The Rust Belt Theater will stage its holiday tradition “How the Drag Queen Stole Christmas” on the Playhouse stage this year because 75 people is more than what The Rust Belt can get in its theater.

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