Millennial Theatre Co. Lays Down Roots

WARREN, Ohio – The Millennial Theatre Co. is only in its fifth year but it is growing up fast.

The troupe reached new heights in 2019, staging a production of “Chicago” that drew critical acclaim. It will take a big step forward in 2020 when it moves to its new and permanent home at the Robins Theatre.

Led by founder and artistic director Joe Asente and vice president Savannah Florkowski, Millennial presented “Chicago” at Youngstown’s Ford Family Recital Hall in May. The musical went on to win five Broadway World awards for the Greater Cleveland area, including Best Musical. Millennial closed last year with the blockbuster announcement that it would become the theater company in residence at the newly reopened Robins Theatre in downtown Warren in 2020.

The Robins, a 1923 venue with a seating capacity of 1,350, underwent a $5 million facelift that was completed in December. With a head to toe renovation that restored it to its original grandeur, the Robins had its grand reopening in January.

Millennial will present a five-show season of musicals at the Robins this year, two more than it staged in 2019.

The season will begin with “Shrek, the Musical” in March. Also scheduled are “Heathers, the Musical” (May), “Be More Chill” (July-August), “The Rocky Horror Show” (October) and “Hair Spray” (December). “Heathers” and “Be More Chill” will be the area premieres for both shows.

In its first four years, Millennial was a traveling company that worked out of high school auditoriums and other venues. Despite having no permanent home, it presented well over a dozen theatrical events during that time period, including plays, musicals, workshops and master classes with Broadway professionals.

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Millennial will begin to apply for grants and funding this year to help cover the cost of a rehearsal space, where shows can be rehearsed, workshops can be held, and costumes and scenery can be stored.

Recently, its board of directors was expanded to include eight new members. After the upcoming season ends, the theater hopes to add its first professional staff member to help the company continue its growth.

Millennial was started in 2016 when its founding members decided to take more initiative within Youngstown’s theater scene and correct what it was felt was under-representation by young adults.

Realizing that the local theater community was not quite ready to pass the reigns to the next generation, the founders created the company as a way to help members of the Millennial generation get involved with theater, and in a way that represents their views, values, experiences and interests.

The theater company specializes in Broadway-style musicals and original works written by Millennial authors that tackle topics of particular interest to the generation, including sexual assault and suicide.

The company also focuses on community outreach, and has provided counselors and other community resources for its post-show discussions, with a goal of hastening social change.

Looking ahead, the future has never been brighter for Millennial Theatre Company.

The company is constantly forced to reinvent itself to better serve its target demographic, and it does so via social media. Millennial reaches its audience with daily content ranging from interactive contests, highlight videos and interactive polls.

While remaining fresh and relevant to its base, Millennial has also managed to reach new audiences, add members to its organization, and find new and exciting ways to bring theater to the Valley.

The company pulled in more than 50 newcomers in 2019 – including performers, designers, technicians and volunteers – and is poised to grow in stature in 2020 as it creates theater with, for and of a generation.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.