Playhouse Will Resume Season with MLK Drama, Close with ‘Hunchback’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The second half of the Youngstown Playhouse’s current season will include the musical “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” on the main stage, an award-winning new drama about Martin Luther King and a locally written play in the intimate Moyer Room, and a youth theater revue.

In addition, the Playhouse will present the Valentine’s Day-themed romantic comedy “Couples Therapy” by Jason Tarr on the main stage Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Additional special events will be announced in the near future. 

After remaining dark for the 2020-21 season because of the pandemic, the Playhouse returned to live theater in September, announcing a half-season that extended into this month.

On Monday, it unveiled the second half of the 2021-22 season. 

It will begin with “The Mountaintop,” which will run for six performances over two weekends, Feb. 18-27 in the Moyer Room.

“The Mountaintop,” by Katori Hall, is a reimaging of the night before the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. It won the 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play. The show will mark the directorial debut of Playhouse veteran James Major Burns, who most recently appeared in The Playhouse’s productions of “The Color Purple” and “Elf.”

“The Mountaintop,” like all performance runs at the Playhouse, will consist of six shows over two consecutive weekends. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The season will continue April 22-May 1 with “People Along the Way,” also in the Moyer Room. The play was written by Playhouse veteran Terry Shears, who also appeared in “Elf.” A director has not yet been named.

In the play, an average man is given the opportunity to answer the question, “Were the good old days really the way we remember them?” Four actors will portray 16 characters as the protagonist discovers how others have changed his life.

Up next will be the “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” directed by Playhouse artistic director Joshua William Green, to be presented on the main stage May 27 to June 5.

Based on the Victor Hugo novel, it features songs by Alan Menken originally developed for the Disney film.

The season will end July 16-17 with Youth Valley Players Showcase, an original revue of scenes and songs created and performed by area high school students. The show stems from a program the Playhouse created this year to give local students an opportunity to do stage work after a year in which schools limited live performances.

Single tickets to all spring productions will go on sale early next year. Flex Pass subscribers may apply their remaining visits to the spring productions.

In announcing the spring schedule, Playhouse board of directors president John Cox expressed his gratitude for the strong support from patrons and audiences over the past four months.

“While we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic through this season, we hope that these productions will resonate with audiences,” he said. “The success of live, local performing arts spurs economic and cultural growth for our greater community.”

The 2022-23 season lineup will be announced in the spring, according to Kayla Boye, executive director of the theater.

Earlier this year, Playhouse officials considered switching to a season that runs from January to December but decided to stick to the traditional season.

“That was an idea that had been considered,” Boye said, “but we ultimately decided to keep with the traditional format.”

The fall-to-summer schedule format aligns better with audience preferences and talent pool availability, she explained. Plus, having the season run concurrently with the fiscal year also aligns the Playhouse with the cycle of grant awards from foundations and other organizations, Boye said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.