New Leadership at Youngstown Playhouse

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Playhouse will emerge from the pandemic shutdown with a trio of new leaders.

After a three-month search process, the community theater’s board of directors has hired Joshua William Green as artistic director, Kayla Boye as executive director, and Tyler Moliterno as associate artistic director and box office manager. All three positions are part-time and took effect April 1.

The new managerial structure diverges from past Playhouse protocol, in that it splits performance duties from business duties by creating two positions. Also, two of the new hires – Green and Boye – are not full-time residents of the Youngstown area and will commute to the city as their jobs require. All three positions are year-to-year contracts.

Green lives in Lancaster, Pa., and frequently travels to New York for work. Boye lives in Chicago.

The new management team also satisfied the board’s desire to hire candidates who will bring professional experience and diversity to the theater.

“We wanted people who were not just well-qualified, but added diversity and were also homegrown,” said John Cox, president of the board of directors.

The trio will replace James McClellan, who wore all hats as the Playhouse’s full-time director of operations. McClellan, who held the top job for four years, stepped down during the pandemic. The Playhouse closed in March of 2020 because of the pandemic and has yet to reopen.

“McClellan did vital work … to position the organization for success,” Cox said. “We are incredibly grateful for Jimmy’s artistry, dedication and friendship.”

A veteran of the area’s performing arts scene, McClellan frequently appeared on stage at the Playhouse and other venues and had been an administrator with Ballet Western Reserve.

Cox said he and the board are “thrilled at the potential” the incoming leadership team brings to the Playhouse.

“They bring a fresh set of eyes,” he said, and will attract newcomers to the theater. Cox and the board want the Playhouse to more effectively mine the talent in the region, and cast a wider net to find actors.

The Playhouse is one of the nation’s oldest continuously operated community theaters and will mark its 100th anniversary in 2024.

The board of directors received 35 applications for the artistic director position and 28 for the executive director job, Cox said. Ten people were interviewed for artistic director and two for executive director.

The new leaders will work closely with the board to reopen the theater and shepherd it through its post-pandemic season – which has already been delayed. The Playhouse was originally slated to reopen in May with the musical “The Color Purple,” but that has been pushed back to September, Cox said. Trevail Maurice, who directed the 2019 hit production of “Dreamgirls,” will direct the show.

Some special events and educational initiatives are tentatively scheduled for this summer.

Green, Boye and Moliterno all have experience on the Playhouse stage.

Taking over the artistic reins of the theater “feels almost surreal,” Green said. “It’s not something I saw coming and I’m grateful to be a part of it, especially with the new way we will run the theater.”

Green is a professional actor, singer and dancer who has toured with the national productions of “Ragtime” and “Finding Neverland.” His recent Playhouse credits include “Dreamgirls,” “Cats,” “A Chorus Line,” “The Wiz” and “Legally Blonde.”

On the national stage, he performed as a backup singer for Sam Smith on the 2018 Grammy Awards show and also with the Rocktopia tour that year..

A 2007 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School, Green’s earliest work was with The Youngstown Connection, the city school district’s song and dance ensemble, and also with Archangel Dance Theater. Archangel was founded by his mother, Karen Clark-Green, a professional actor, director, choreographer, opera singer and playwright.

Green has his own production company, the Lancaster, Pa.-based Performance Now.

“We do everything from workshops, to providing background singers, to you name it,” he said. Green and Performance Now also work with several theater companies in the Lancaster area, including Prima Theatre and Servant Stage Company, where he leads youth workshops.

“I’ve done a lot of directing and creating for different theater companies,” he said. “I love encouraging people, and being on the other side of the table and not on stage.”

Green has a degree in musical theater from Youngstown State University and also graduated from the American Musical Dramatic Academy in New York. His goal at the Playhouse is “to make sure that new directors and all of the talent pool in the city will be used,” he said. “We have a huge pool of skill and talent here.”

Green said he will also direct some shows himself.

As executive director, Boye will manage a variety of administrative operations. She had been serving as the organization’s development director and helped sustain the theater through the pandemic by securing several major grants. She’ll continue in the fundraising role.

“In addition to continuing my development duties, I will be adding on broader administrative, marketing and communications responsibilities,” Boye said.

The YSU graduate, and 2009 graduate of Howland High School, appeared in numerous productions at the university and the Playhouse, including “Chicago” (2010) and “Mary Poppins” (2015). She moved to Chicago eight years ago, where she is a professional actor and theater administrator.

Boye has worked in development, marketing and finance for the Goodman Theatre and Writers Theatre, and she has served as a producer for Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Garage Rep series.

As a consultant with Artistic Fundraising Group, her portfolio included work for Arts of Life, BrightSide Theatre, Chicago Composers Orchestra, Chicago Mosaic School, Oak Park Festival Theatre, and Snow City Arts.

Boye’s Chicago stage credits include “The Wizard of Oz” (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), “South Pacific” (Drury Lane Theatre), “Can-Can,” “Billy Elliott,” “Little Me” (Porchlight Music Theatre) and “Mary Poppins” (Theater Chicago).

Most recently, her solo show, “Call Me Elizabeth,” enjoyed a successful world premiere in March as a virtual production. It was streamed in partnership with the Playhouse. Boye wrote and stars in the one-woman show, in which she plays Elizabeth Taylor.

“Thanks to the warm reception received from the Youngstown premiere, ‘Call Me Elizabeth’ will be streamed for Chicago audiences in partnership with Porchlight Music Theatre from April 23-30, followed by national distribution via Broadway On Demand in May,” Boye said. “I hope to eventually perform it in-person, when conditions safely allow.”

Boye said her experience as an actor complements her work as an arts administrator.

“It was my passion for performing that actually led to my interest in administration,” she said. “I believe it is important as an artist to understand the business side of producing shows, including budgetary limitations, audience engagement, and donor cultivation. The magic onstage cannot happen without support from the organization and community.”

Working in the various areas of a theater, she said, has taught her how to communicate with artists, staff, board, volunteers and audiences.

As associate artistic director, Moliterno will handle many daily duties, Cox said. The Boardman native graduated from Cleveland State University, where he led several theater organizations dedicated to producing original student works.

His acting career started at the Playhouse’s youth theater. Since 2017, he has directed shows for the drama programs at both Boardman and Canfield high schools.

The three new hires join existing Playhouse employees John Pecano, sets and props builder, and Sarah Demetruk, youth theater director.

Pictured: The Youngstown Playhouse management team is Johnny Pecano, Sarah Jane Demetruk, Joshua William Green, Kayla Boye and Tyler Moliterno. Green, Boye and Moliterno were just hired. Credit: Photos for Keeps by Erin.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.