The Playhouse has a Rich History in Youngstown
In the early 1920’s, four ladies from Rodef Sholom began reading plays for their own enjoyment. This soon blossomed into the beginnings of our own Youngstown Players and on to The Youngstown Playhouse.
By 1924, it became clear that the Youngstown community wanted entertainment. The stars, like Al Jolson, Walter Hampden and the Barrymores who stopped by for brief performances on their way to bigger cities were not enough for the people who made their homes here. They wanted a different kind of theatre – a theatre for players, a theatre where the whole community could participate. The seeds for a community theatre were planted.
On February 16, 1927, several different drama organizations merged to form The Youngstown Players.
The Playhouse’s first home was in a converted barn at 138 Lincoln Avenue, with an entrance on Arlington Street. Eventually, the organizers of the theatre brought in 165 seats and a 25-foot stage and the first performances were staged in 1928.
The Playhouse on Arlington Street was the result of a labor of love involving many Youngstown families and the area’s outstanding talent. There was not necessarily any connection between the two. From the beginning, the Youngstown Players brought together people of all different backgrounds – rich and poor; teacher and student; store owner and clerk. All of them worked together in the pursuit of dramatic art. Nothing else counted except talent and a willingness to put it to work.
Over the years, the Playhouse grew. It moved from Arlington Street to its theatre on Market Street in 1942. The Playhouse eventually moved to its current home on Glenwood Avenue in 1959.
Talent blossomed and moved on. Some went to Broadway. Others to Hollywood. Dozens of famous directors, actors and producers credit their success in the business to the lessons they learned on-stage, backstage and in the offices of The Youngstown Playhouse.
The Youngstown Playhouse currently celebrates 90+ years of bringing live theatre to Youngstown. During that time The Playhouse has always strived to honor the classic theatre works by reintroducing them to the public and also introducing them to a new generation of theatregoers. We have also tried to stay as current as possible with new works by new artists from all over the country. During those ninety years, the Playhouse has never operated on state or federal funds but instead relied on the community support through ticket sales.