Warren Philharmonic Eyes Move to Robins Theatre

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Talks have begun toward making the Robins Theatre the permanent home of the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra.

“It seems like a natural fit,” said Barry G. Dunaway, executive director of the WPO. “It’s a little too early to say, but we are in talks with them.”

The Robins Theatre will have its grand opening in January, and a full slate of concerts and theatrical productions is already on the schedule. The 1,350-seat downtown Warren venue is currently in the final phases of a $5- to $7-million project to renovate and restore the original grandeur of the theater that has stood empty for 45 years.

The project is the handiwork of Mark Marvin and his Downtown Redevelopment Group. Ken Haidaris of Sunrise Entertainment is handling booking and promotion.

“We definitely are interested in [the WPO] moving here potentially in the future,” said Alyssa Connelly-Bissett, marketing director for Sunrise. “We expect to have them here in some capacity at some time, but we haven’t had any negotiations yet.”

Any move by the WPO to the Robins would have to wait at least until next season.

“The problem is, we’ve got our concerts [for the current season] booked already at First Presbyterian Church,” Dunaway said. “We’re trying to work out something special in May or June, like adding an additional concert to the schedule at the Robins. It’s in the early planning stages. But we’d love to have the Robins be our permanent home.”

Susan Davenny Wyner, music director and conductor of the WPO, very much likes the idea.

“The Robins Theatre would be a perfect venue for the orchestra in the future, but at this point nothing is set in stone,” she said.

Dunaway said he would like to tour the theater with Wyner and a handful of musicians so that they can perform on stage to test the acoustics. Wyner, who lives in Boston, will be in Warren next month for the WPO’s first concert on Oct. 7. Dunaway expects the sound will be good.

“It was built as a theater so I would think the acoustics would be fine, and they seem to be restoring it back to its original plan,” Dunaway said.

At 1,350 seats, he said the capacity of the Robins is suitable. The WPO’s current home at First Presbyterian can hold close to 500 people.

Up until a few years ago, the orchestra played at the 1,900-seat Packard Music Hall, where it routinely drew between 600 and 800 for regular concerts, and between 1,200 and 1,800 for its annual children’s concert, Dunaway said.

Pictured: The Robins Theatre in downtown Warren is in the final phases of a $5- to $7-million renovation project.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.