YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown arts community is a vibrant one, featuring everything from the Butler Institute of American Art to the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra. On Friday night, one of the mainstays of the arts community, the Youngstown Playhouse, starts its 96th season.
Wednesday night, a dress rehearsal was held for the season’s opening show, Dreamgirls, which is loosely based on the story of the Supremes and Motown.
Youngstown State University senior Jennifer Zamis plays Deena Jones, one of the Dreamgirls.
“It’s amazing to be a part of something that can really showcase a lot of things that people don’t really look at and a lot of problems that people don’t really discuss anymore,” she said.
The play is also the directorial debut of 22-year-old Trevail Maurice, a graduate of Youngstown Early College.
“It is very young [to be a director], yes, it is, but it’s so exciting,” he said.
Hidden amongst the lights and props of the stage was the history of the Youngstown Playhouse. Friday will be the start of the 96th season.
“First of all, for those of you that don’t know, the Youngstown Playhouse in Youngstown, Ohio, is the oldest ongoing community theater in America,” Maurice said.
“But fortunately, it’s been solvent enough that we’ve been able to go on with the next season and the next season,” said Jim McClellan.
McClellan has been managing the Playhouse for four years, but he’s been acting in its shows for 30.
“Working here you’re aware of the tradition that’s behind you and the history that’s behind you,” McClellan said.
McClellan is well aware of what’s ahead of him — he knows that the 100th anniversary is coming fast.
“We’re getting our archive in shape, that’s the first thing because there’s a lot — a lot of photos, a lot of programs, a lot of articles, things from the 20s to now,” McClellan said.
For its 100th year, McClellan said the Playhouse may stage shows reminiscent of the 1920s. But first things first, get through Dreamgirls.
Sales for Dreamgirls are going well.
The Playhouse’s 2019-2020 season runs for 10 shows:
- Dreamgirls, Sept. 6-15
- Art, Sept. 27-Oct. 6
- A Grand Night for Singing, Oct. 18-27
- The Drawer Boy, Nov. 8-17
- Frozen, Jr., Dec. 6-8
- Shakespeare in Love, Feb. 14-23
- Venus in Fur, March 6-15
- The Gone Away Place, March 27-29
- The Light in the Piazza, May 1-10
- The Story of My Life, May 29-June 7