Books, Film to Mark Youngstown Playhouse’s 100th Anniversary
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Playhouse will begin a yearlong celebration of its 100th anniversary in September 2024.
To mark the milestone, Youngstown-based playwright and theater veteran J.E. Ballantyne Jr. has written two books about the theater and is producing a documentary film series.
All will be released in spring 2024.
The books and film are being published by Ballantyne’s J&B Production Arts and are not affiliated with the Playhouse. A website will go live in September with information.
The centerpiece of the three projects will be the book “A Place Where the Stars Still Shine – A Glittering Galaxy of 100 Youngstown Playhouse Years.”
Ballantyne has spent more than 60 years in local and professional theater, with 50 of those years at the Playhouse. His book will take a detailed look at the beginnings of the local theater and trace its 100-year history.
Ballantyne said that, to his knowledge, this is the first book to ever have been written about The Youngstown Playhouse. Along with hundreds of photographs, it will offer an insider’s look at the successes, failures and myriad ups and downs along the way.
Many current and past Playhouse stars and personalities were interviewed for the book, which includes anecdotes pertaining to backstage life at the theater.
The book also chronicles many of the major main stage and youth productions over the century.
The Youngstown Playhouse is one of the longest-running and most successful community theaters in the country.
Ballantyne said every community theater can learn from his book, and it will become a keepsake of the centennial celebration.
The foreword for the book was written by Guy D’Astolfo, entertainment editor of The Business Journal.
The companion book will be “A Youngstown Playhouse Scrapbook – A Photographic Journey Through 100 Years.”
Ballantyne explained that the companion book came about due to the thousands of great production and backstage photos that could not be included in the primary book. There will be very little commentary in the book – it will be photographs from front to back.
Ballantyne and J&B Production Arts Services have teamed up with Michael Rossi and L&M Productions to produce a documentary film about the history of the Playhouse. Titled “The Youngstown Playhouse – A Centennial of Live Theater,” the documentary is based on Ballantyne’s primary book. It will run in 10 parts, with each part covering one decade at the theater.
Packed with photos, commentary, video and interviews, the documentary will take the viewer on a trip through 100 years of Playhouse productions.
Local musician and cabaret performer Rick Blackson will compose selected musical pieces for the documentary.
J&B Production Arts Services and L&M Productions will also produce a nostalgic video for the Playhouse centennial, to be released in spring 2024.
“On the Marquee” will consist of a series of one-on-one video interviews with 39 Playhouse actors and personalities through the years. Similar in format to the Robert Osbourne interviews that once aired on Turner Classic Movies, viewers will enjoy detailed Playhouse history as well as backstage stories and personal observations from those who have spent many years on and around the Playhouse stage.
Actors appearing in On the Marquee will include John Cox, Molly Galano, Gene DeCaprio, Joseph Scarvell, David Jendre, Michael J. Moritz Jr., James McClellan, Rick Blackson, Kady Kimpel, Lynn Nelson Rafferty, Todd Hancock, Robert Vargo, James Major Burns, Maureen Collins, Dana Snyder and many more.
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.