- Advertisement -
  • Most Commentedmost commented up
  • Most Emailedmost emailed up
  • Popularmost popular up
- Advertisement -


« News Home

Has the Youngstown Playhouse seen its final curtain?

Published: Fri, January 9, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.


GROUNDBREAKING: City leaders and members of the Youngstown Playhouse break ground on the theater off Glenwood Avenue in April 1958.

  Youngstown Playhouse

The Youngstown Playhouse is called America’s oldest ongoing community theater. Can the facility’s 50-year location be saved, or has it seen its final curtain?


Vindicator Staff Writer

Though Its actors may simply require makeup and a costume, the Youngstown Playhouse needs nearly $1 million to perform again.

A leaking roof and antiquated furnace system, coupled with a pipe that burst last month, have led Rand Becker and the rest of the Youngstown Playhouse board of directors to abandon their longtime home.

“It’s just been one thing after another,” said Becker, the president of the board, as he toured the 50-year-old structure off Glenwood Avenue.

The leaking roof and broken pipe have created significant water damage to the facility, Becker said. Though the building is structurally sound, the interior needs extensive work.

The theater is in such dire need of maintenance and repair, estimates from local contractors now reach $800,000.

The facility, which opened Jan. 4, 1959, cost $350,000. The first production, a 25-skit “Open House,” was performed in front of an audience of 500, according to Vindicator files.

But the theater’s death certificate may have been signed when the performing group suspended performances at the facility last fall. John Holt, then executive director of the board, announced the group would postpone productions until the building reopened in the spring.

“We have lost the majority of our regular annual giving from grant houses and foundations, and we are going into the toughest part of the year,” Holt said in the October announcement. “Our utility costs multiply by four or five times during the winter months.”

Becker said the decision was made, in part, because of the antiquated furnace that could only heat the building to about 65 degrees. The cost to heat the building exceeded $9,000 per month in the winter.

“You can’t have people sit in a theater for three hours in 65 degrees,” Becker said. “You just can’t.”

Though the furnace signaled the end, the water problems brought down the final curtain.

A tour with The Vindicator revealed many problems with the performance hall. Fallen ceiling tiles litter back hallways and rooms, and the pungent aroma of mildew greets patrons the way a ticket taker once did. The carpet in the main foyer squishes beneath shoes, and the orchestra pit appears moatlike, surrounded by puddles. The warped stage holds the skeleton of the unfinished set from the last planned production – Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.”

The water also damaged a number of seats, Becker said. Of the 520 seats in the building, Becker said about 100 need to be replaced. He said the cost for replacing a seat can range from $50 to $400.

Becker, who was named president of the board in July, said he “walked into a buzz saw” when he took the job. The building was behind on bills, he said. Despite the financial instability, Becker said most of the utility companies have been understanding.

Once the building is clear of those debts, the cost of repair looms.

Until any headway is made with the facility, the Youngstown Playhouse group will perform at other locations, Becker said. And though the group would like to return to its home, nothing has been scripted.

“We’re going to clean it up, dry it out and make a decision,” Becker said. “It’s too early to write it off just yet.”

If the structure isn’t salvaged and repaired, many current and former members of the Playhouse feel the city will be to blame for its death.

Bentley Lenhoff, former president of the board, was adamant in his position on saving the local landmark.

“I think the announcement of the Playhouse being dead is premature,” he said. “I think the Playhouse can yet be saved and saved in its present location. This area has very few assets like the Playhouse ... I don’t think this area can afford to lose the Playhouse ... If the city of Youngstown, the mayor and the city council and this area’s donors sit idly by and allow the Playhouse to die, shame on them, and that death should be on their conscience.”

Lenhoff said he has much respect for the board but feels they haven’t explored all avenues for the repairs. He suggested talking with local plumbing and roofing unions and inquire about pro-bono work.

Becker said the executive board is exploring options.

“I’ve got a group I trust, and that is what counts.”

Joe Scarvell, current board member and actor with the Youngstown Playhouse, said despite the problems, the building is crucial to the group.

“The sour part is that it’s an old building, and it needs a lot of work, but let’s put that aside,” said Scarvell. “The great part is that this is the greatest theater between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and you cannot find a theater that is physically prepared to do almost any kind of play that we as players do.

“There is no theater like this around.”

Bill Lawson, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, said the building provides historical importance, as well as cultural significance.

“For those of us who grew up in this community, it was part of our lives,” he said. “We had youth theater classes and other productions throughout the year. During my lifetime, it has always been a fixture of Youngstown.”

Lenhoff suggested some people are afraid to invest in the theater because of its neighborhood with a negative reputation.

“To those critics and potential investors who said they wouldn’t give a dime to the Playhouse in its present location, I think prejudice is part of it, and I don’t think it should be,” he said.

Becker indicated that the old show business adage applies to the Youngstown Playhouse: The show must – and will – go on with or without the facility. Despite rumblings of relocating elsewhere, the performing group wants to stay within the city limits.

“It’s the Youngstown Playhouse,” he said. “And we want to stay in Youngstown.”



1Askmeificare(1226 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Put your sentimentality aside, take a breath, and look anew at what is going on.

Bentley lenhoff gave the theater management job to john holt whom apparently had done nothing (John Holt) about repairs toward the furnace, roof, auditorium seats, etc., in the four years he was there. Under john holt, the playhouse became a clique again as he consistently cast his family, himself, and his friends in shows, and on and on. On his myspace page he even stated that the Youngstown Playhouse was HIS theater ( I enjoy running my own theater... ).

Additionally, it appears john holt may have neglected the African American representation of the community. In the Youngstown Vindicator article, “Dark Times at the Youngstown Playhouse” ( Nov 9 2008), no African Americans were cited for their opinions, although two African Americans are on the Youngstown Playhouse Board of Directors. John holt did not write the article although I believe he provided sources for the story.

Back to bentley lenhoff. The same bentley lenhoff who very publicly (strike one) supports his son in law, marc dann - former Ohio Attorney General. lenhoff probably did this because dann may have borrowed money from lenhoff during and for his campaign for Ohio Attorney General, and lenhoff, by basically publicly stating that dann is a good boy down deep inside he should get a free pass, made a bad decision to publicly show unrealistic support for dann, in my opinion. And lenhoff made a bad decision bringing in john holt. Strike two.

Lenhoff also states, “... If the city of Youngstown, the mayor and the city council and this area’s donors sit idly by and allow the Playhouse to die, shame on them, and that death should be on their conscience.” Uh, hey Bentley, local government didn’t make the mistakes that were made, so why are you bringing them into it? But then again, how else could you defend yourself and john holt. You gave everything to this theater and indeed it is sad that no one could fill your shadow, but you gave it to john so aren’t you to blame as well? Even a tiny bit? Where does the buck stop? Strike three.

Enter Rand Becker. Hopefully this honest and caring man can do the job that should have been done the past five years. Hopefully Rand Becker can find and reunite the people who indeed do care about the Youngstown Playhouse and bring community back to our community theater. Hopefully Rand Becker can find what happened to MS. Griffiths $50,000.00 donation and put that to use.

Good luck Rand and Godspeed. You’ll need it.

And what are YOUR thoughts??

Suggest removal:

2foxforce5(1 comment)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Twelve years ago when I lived in Youngstown they were talking about moving the location because of safety and lack of attendence. Why would it be so awful to do so now if the building is not structurally sound? Relocate to Stambaugh Auditorium.

Suggest removal:

3LB(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Not too big, not too small – just right.

The loss of the Youngstown Playhouse facility will be a huge loss to the Youngstown area community for many reasons. It is a facility designed specifically to handle many different types of community theatrical events: comedy, drama, musicals, dance and variety shows. The facility is designed with enough back stage space to allow multiple sets (such as are needed for musicals) to store offstage or to allow two productions to perform during the same week. (i.e. Youth Theatre and Main Stage productions) The fly loft is exactly tall enough to hide the curtains and backdrops designed to fit the proscenium opening. The stage floor is large enough to paint any backdrop needed. The lighting positions are designed for maximum coverage at a flattering angle. The orchestra pit (what other theatre has an orchestra pit – Powers? –but they rarely open it) houses as many musicians as needed for a musical. The facility’s costume and scenery shops allow the construction of period to modern sets and costumes. The dressing rooms were redesigned during the last renovation to make them larger. The facility’s storage capacity gives the Youngstown Playhouse the ability to lend set pieces, costumes and props to other community and professional theatres in the area. The facility has its own rehearsal space that can double as a performance or reception space. It has a new elevator. Its medium size seating arrangement allows for multiple performances, giving the audience a variety of performance dates to choose from and community performers a longer run to practice their craft. Having their own facility allows the Playhouse to set their own performance schedule. The Youngstown Playhouse facility is unparalleled in this area as a training facility for actors, directors, designers and technicians.
I can’t imagine never being able to visit this facility again. It makes me very sad that this important facility has become so damaged that the Youngstown Playhouse organization can no longer hold performances in it.
Can’t something be done?
Do we really need one more boarded up, unkempt, rotting, untenanted building in Youngstown?

Suggest removal:

4backstagediva1(17 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Thank you LB for putting it down. It would certainly take far more money to build a facility from the ground up, that could match what you have described. I have performed on both Stambaugh and Powers stage and neither has the wing space, let alone dressing room space in comparison to The Playhouse. Alas, Youngstown will very well be known for the number of boarded up, unkempt, rotting, untenanted buildings, rather than be known for a city pulling together to help save an historical landmark. I just wonder what other historical buildings the public would be so quick to say tear it down, or sell it, if it too was in a crisis? Funny, I can't think of one. Then of course, none of them are located in the center of a black neighborhood. Opps that was a typo, i meant bad neighborhood.

Suggest removal:

5backstagediva1(17 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Erplane,I dont expect you to understand BUT race does indeed play into this. Fact is fact. 90% of the people who come to the playhouse are not african american and they live in the suburbs. How many times have you read on this, and other blogs, people saying they don't want to come to the Playhouse because of the neighborhood? If The Playhouse was in the middle of, lets say Oak Knoll Drive,just a few blocks from the playhouse in boardman, there wouldnt be nearly as many complaints. Race shouldnt be an issue but I am only one person with that opinion. I would bet money if the surrounding area of the Playhouse had middle to upperclass non minorities occupying the houses, no one would be talking about moving the playhouse, or being scared to come to the playhouse at night. I could sit here all day and argue the point but the bottom line is no one cares anymore. The word "community" just doesnt exist anymore. Granted, the building is just a structure and it's the people who made the playhouse,not the building itself, unless you have lived it, done it, you have no idea what the building means to so many of us and why it is important to keep the building where it is and up and running. Many of us have moved on to other great theaters in the area. There will always, hopefully, be a venue to get involved in. But there will never be another like the playhouse. Oh and if you look back there have been 3, sometimes more simultaneous musicals/ plays, etc... happening here and I dont think anyone suffered. There are enough people to get around. Youngstowners are DYING to be entertained. There can never be too much going on at one time that someone, somewhere, isnt going to attend.

Suggest removal:

6Westsider(269 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I wish the time and energy that was invested into trying to keep a hockey team here would also be invested into the arts. There will be no lack of theatrical productions for patrons - thanks to the Oakland, the Victorian, TNT, YSU, Top Hat - I could go on and on. That said, the Playhouse was actually built for stage productions and is just about the only venue in town where this can happen. My personal opinion is that John Holt did not do his job - indeed formed a clique - which limited those interested in auditioning -- and rendered the board ineffective under his watch.

Regardless of the controversy surrounding his son-in-law (a totally separate issue) - Bentley Lenhoff knows the theater business well - and did an excellent job when he returned as Executive Director. It is a shame that poor health forced him to step down at a critical time - but true leadership would have picked up the ball and run with it.

Of considerable note is that improvements done with grant money secured several years back went into ridiculous projects - taking away the arena theater and building office space - rather than providing needed repairs to the physical plant.

As for the building's neighborhood - I have known almost no one who had a problem there. Sure, there were occasions of crime (auto break-ins, etc.) - but they were no different than what happens in the parking lot of the Southern Park Mall.

Finally, I am sad for the dedicated people in the community - the actors, directors, stage managers and crew who would rehearse in 55 degree temperatures to save on the heating bill and performed "A Christmas Carol" to half-empty houses with no heat in the middle of December.

The silence from Mayor Williams and the members of City Council - particularly the representative in whose ward the Playhouse sits -- is deafening. What can we do as a community to ensure that this institution - so much a part of Youngstown's history -- remains viable? There was a time when every physician and attorney in town had subscriptions to both the Playhouse and the Symphony (which is also struggling financially). Where are they now? We need someone to take leadership of the situation who is not self-serving - and who truly cares about the arts in Youngstown. The death of the arts in Youngstown will mean that the city's total demise is not far behind.

Suggest removal:

7backstagediva1(17 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago


Suggest removal:

8Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

It's the same old story, and one I am getting really tired of hearing. Somebody needs to bail out the Youngstown Playhouse.

The Youngstown Playhouse is a huge theatrical black hole that people have been dumping money into for decades. I think it is interesting that the most recent article says the Youngstown Playhouse is "called America's oldest running community theater." It doesn't say it IS the oldest. That was probably a very careful choice of words. I don't see how it can be considered the oldest when it closes and needs to be bailed out as often as it does.

The last time the playhouse was in trouble Bentley Lenhoff stepped in and basically saved it. Season tickets increased tremendously that year. I remember the letter he send out to theater patrons. Something along the lines of "I've come home. Won't you come home too?" So yes, I bought a pair of season tickets. But I did it because I felt bad for the playhouse. I didn't do it because they put on good shows or because they deserved my patronage. I did it because I was guilted into it. I know a lot of people who felt that way.

Suggest removal:

9aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I think this is a wonderful structure and it just needs some TLC and support from the community. It's a shame that it's located in such a terrible area, but you have to admit -- that area was once a good neighborhood, just like the Playhouse was once a beautiful landmark. I absolutely think that it should remain, even if the performances are done elsewhere until enough money is saved to fix up the Playhouse. It is a historic building and if these historic buildings keep rotting, then the only thing that will be left of Youngstown are abandoned buildings and the criminals that inhabit them.

Suggest removal:

10Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Let me ask you this: What has the Youngstown Playhouse provided, especially in recent years, that is worth the millions and millions and MILLIONS of dollars patrons, donors, and taxpayers have sunk into it? I don't see The Playhouse giving back to the community.

Someone argued with me the other day that their youth theater program is their outreach. That is RIDICULOUS. Do you have any idea how much money they make off our kids? I can pretty much guarantee that it's the revenue generated from the childrens theater that keeps that place open and not the funds generated from mainstage shows. That isn't outreach. It's exploitation.

I agree with the comments other people have posted on here about John Holt and the playhouse clique mentality. For the last few years that building has been and ego farm for big headed fish in a teeny tiny pond. I used to be able to predict with near perfect accuracy who would be cast in every show. Honestly, you would think we only had four or five actors in all of the Mahoning Valley.

Another question: Why does the story keep changing? The Playhouse is not closing. The Playhouse is closing. The Playhouse is moving to a suburb. The Playhouse is staying in Youngstown. Did the Playhouse really close for the winter because of heating bills, or is there something more? Rumors have been circulating about the Youngstown Playhouse owing a huge debt to the IRS. Is that true? And if it is, why isn't anyone writing about it. Also, how convenient is it that a water pipe exploded? This all seems very fishy to me.

Suggest removal:

11Westsider(269 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Does anyone know if the Playhouse is in the Fifth or Sixth Ward?

Suggest removal:

12aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I believe it is in the fifth.

Suggest removal:

13KnowtheFacts(8 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

To the poster who referenced the IRS. The Youngstown Playhouse is a 501(c)(3)non-profit entity and as such, pays no taxes to the IRS.

Suggest removal:

14Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

To "knowthefacts" I am only posting what people are saying. Rumors have been flying for weeks and I am curious to know what is true and what is fiction.

Furthermore, to say that non profit organizations cannot be in debt to the IRS is a lie. If a tax-exempt organization has employees, the organization is responsible for Federal Income Tax Withholding and Social Security and Medicare taxes. In addition, some organizations are responsible for Federal Unemployment Tax. The Playhouse, as far as I know, does have employees and would be responsible for those taxes. If those taxes were neglected, miscalculated, or mishandled, a large debt to the IRS could very EASILY build up, 501(c)(3)non-profit status or not.

Now, I am not saying that is necessarily the case with the Youngstown Playhouse. I am asking. Does anyone know, is there truth to this rumor?

Suggest removal:

15oldone(15 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I will only post once, and only because of the accusations that have no facts to back them up.
1st...What the Playhouse gives back to the community is entertainment, pure and simple.
2nd....The Playhouse is not continually being "bailed out" It happened 5 years ago and the problem now is because of an unfortunate natural disaster.
3rd....The community has not given the Playhouse "millions and millions" of dollars in recent years. Yes, the community has been generous, in the thousands, not anywhere close to even 1/2 million dollars.
That is all I have to say.

Suggest removal:

16Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I beg to differ. Didn't the Playhouse get a multi-million dollar grant a few years ago?

And since when is a pipe bursting considered a natural disaster? I'd chalk that up to neglect. Pure and simple.

And whether the Playhouse gives "entertainment" back to the community is completely relative. Not to mention the fact that we have MANY local organizations that give entertainment to the community, ones that do so without wasting and mismanaging millions of dollars.

Suggest removal:

17aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Natural disaster my butt.

A tornado is a natural disaster. A flood caused by downpours of rain is a natural disaster.

A water main break... that's human error at some point in the game.

Suggest removal:

18Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I think it is interesting that John Holt and Bentley Lenhoff seem to be the scapegoats of choice. As a nonprofit organization, the playhouse is required by law to have a board of directors. What were they doing while the building was falling apart? Why was the Playhouse putting on such expensive shows last season (Beauty and The Beast, Titanic) when the facility was in disrepair? It sounds like a lot of bad decisions were made, but all the blame cannot fall upon John Holt. The board should have stepped in. It is their job to oversee. It doesn't sound like any of the Youngstown Playhouse's problems happened over night. Once again, I say neglect.

How are we, the members of the community, supposed to react when we read articles like this? The playhouse needs more money. More funds to make MORE bad business decisions? And what, we'll hear from them again in five or ten years? .

Suggest removal:

19aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Put me on that board and see how well the finances of that place shape up.

Suggest removal:

20backstagediva1(17 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

This will be my last post, but I feel I must comment one last time to set the record straight.
1. The community has NOT given the Playhouse millions and millions of dollars. BUT it was awarded one million for renovations ONCE. This money, unfortunately went to filling in the arena (bad move)office furniture (another bad move) office renovations, new dressing rooms, some heating and air conditioning work and putting in an elevator(smart move). Half of the work, including the elevator wasnt completed until much later because the money ran out.
2.The Playhouse does give entertainment to the community but there was a time, not too long ago, that the Playhouse hosted Unity in the Community and at Christmas, we handed out toys (some donated, others bought by the Playhouse) to the needy children. There have been rummage sales to help the community and winter hat and coat drives.One year, they converted the lobby and arena into a haunted house and gave out candy to the neighborhood kids. Not much, but those little things are what made it a vital force in the community. The Playhouse also hosted many community functions and the youth theater program had a scholorship program for those who couldnt afford to pay for classes.
3. I will be the first to admit that money was mismanaged, and hopefully that wont ever happen again
4. The Playhouse will need to work on building the community closeness it once had but I think it can be done.
5. And The Youngstown Playhouse IS America's Oldest Ongoing Community Theater. Look it up!
And until the building comes crashing to the ground, it will continue to be.

Suggest removal:

21Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

One million is still a lot of money. And to clarify, I am sure that if you add up the money that has been spent to keep the Playhouse running over the last few decades you will find that it did indeed receive millions of dollars...whether from grants, patrons, private donors, underwriting, etc.

When I read the articles that have been written over the last few days, I feel like the community is being served a giant guilt trip on a platter.

My point it, the community HAS given the playhouse money. Over and over again.

Suggest removal:

22Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Backstagediva1 : So you are saying the building itself is the oldest? Or is it the organization? That is the part I am confused about. Also, the word "ongoing." When the playhouse cancels shows and closes, doesn't that mean it is not going on?

Suggest removal:

23jemerson(9 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Wow, this whole thing is just incredibly sad.

Backstagediva- I thank you for speaking out for those who have given many years of blood, sweat, and tears to the arts in this community and to a place that has meant so much to so many.

There are quite a few respondents on this thread who are simply missing the point. One person actually said-

"Someone argued with me the other day that their youth theater program is their outreach. That is RIDICULOUS. Do you have any idea how much money they make off our kids? I can pretty much guarantee that it's the revenue generated from the childrens theater that keeps that place open and not the funds generated from mainstage shows. That isn't outreach. It's exploitation."

Are you serious? I would wager that I speak for many when i say that my experiences at the Playhouse on all levels, in many ways defines who I am today and served as some of the building blocks for what I have been able to achieve. It was a community organization where kids in the youth theatre and adults on the main stage could interact with others of different races, religions, economic status, etc- all with the common goal of creating something great.

There are a number of great theatre venues in Youngstown but during my time in this town we had a great deal more unity amongst theatres and while all provide similar and wonderful services to the community, each serves it in it's own way. For one of us to fall is a loss for us all.

In the end its not about entertainment, location, or even season ticket holders. It was a place for dreams to take seed. A place where someone who came from nothing learned he could become anything.

If the Playhouse is truly gone I feel great sadness for those who did not get to experience the purpose for which it truly served.

Suggest removal:

24DrGoo(297 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I have a blog about this too :-D

Suggest removal:

25DrGoo(297 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I think the playhouse should be saved. I also think the playhouse needs to find a way to cut back on expenses. They really need a person that understands theater and business to be running the place. They also need a plan on reaching out to the actual community.

Suggest removal:

26ohhappyday16(4 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Boy Dr. Goo, for a recent college graduate, you certainly seem to have a naive view of this situation. "I think the playhouse should be saved." What a fascinating conclusion to come to! Luckily we have people in Youngstown with your brains to help us out.

On your blog you were asked what you would have done to help the Playhouse out. Unfortunately, you did not answer the question. You responded, "But what was I willing to do? A lot, I have done a lot for the playhouse, and I'm not the only one who has done things. I'm sure if there are many people that would have stepped in if they knew the playhouse needed help, myself included." The question was not what have you done in the past, it was what would you have done. You have not been seen on the Playhouse stage for quite some time if my memory serves me correctly. As well as you have not worked backstage in a number of years. I would also like to say that a number of people did come in and try to help the Playhouse out. They put in long hours volunteering, they made cold calls asking for money, helped crew shows, came in and worked in the box office, cleaned the bathrooms, theatre, and the lobby. For everyone saying that they didn't know the Playhouse was in financial difficulty, this is simply a lie. It is not new news that the Playhouse has always faced challenging times, as well as every theatre in our area (Powers and Stambaugh included).

All I can say is that hopefully the Youngstown area will understand the importance the Playhouse has on the culture and arts in the area. The Youth Theatre has serviced thousands of children and has proved to be an invaluable community resource. This area has no other theatre like the Playhouse. No other theatre could do the type of shows the Playhouse does, simply because of their facilities or audience base. Youngstown cannot afford to lose this community landmark.

Suggest removal:

27aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

"5. And The Youngstown Playhouse IS America's Oldest Ongoing Community Theater. Look it up!
And until the building comes crashing to the ground, it will continue to be."

By no means do I want that building to come down... but I have to say, with caved in ceilings, it's definitely close to crashing...

Suggest removal:

28DrGoo(297 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

You hadn't seen me in any plays at the Youngstown Playhouse, in the last year, because I wasn't in many plays period. I had been busy with school, and my own projects. It was kind of impossible for me to make it to my own rehearsals let alone rehearsals for other productions.

One project I was working on was a fundraiser for 2 families that had been heavily involved with the Playhouse . This fundraiser originally was supposed to be at the Playhouse in November. I personally was given contradictory messages about the status of the Playhouse. I was told it would be fine for me to use. Then, I would hear reports on the news about how they cut off the heat and water. It got to the point I had no idea what was actually happening at the Playhouse.

People can not be expected to help out in any situation where they aren't told the situation.

Suggest removal:

29DrGoo(297 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

also, I wrote "I think the playhouse should be saved" as a response to Seriously's post. As in "i think there should be more investment," not that that is the actual solution to the problems.

Suggest removal:

30KnowtheFacts(8 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

There is so much misinformation posted on this site. Speculation is presented as fact and everyone seems to be an expert. How many community theaters have YOU operated? Do you have professional credits? What purpose does your post serve other than to feed your ego? Youngstown seems to be populated by dabsters who only emerge from the shadows to beat an ailing organization further into disrepute by spreading half truths, non-facts and purely self-serving venom. This is YOUR community, you know. As I watched the State Theater being demolished I could only bemoan the lack of appreciation we have for our cultural institutions; especially our performance groups. Spreading misinformation of the nature and scope represented in this site is not constructive and is simply unfair to a venerable institution and the thousands of talented people; young and old who are its life blood.

Suggest removal:

31Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

And yet, you don't offer any facts to counter the "misinformation." Hmmmm. Curious.

I'm only asking questions and pointing out that before the city or ANYONE else invests money into the playhouse, they need make sure the money will be invested wisely. I do not believe it has been in the past, and from what other people have posted on here I can see that I am not the only one who has that opinion.

It also annoys me that people are acting like the playhouse closing will be the death of theater in the Mahoning valley. We have PLENTY of other theaters and performance venues, ones that put on quality performances AND pay their bills. Support them.

I must have received ten emails this week asking me to participate in the fundraising efforts to save the Youngstown Playhouse. Absolutely not. I'd rather give my time and money to an organization that has its act together.

Suggest removal:

32Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

As for the state theater, I'm thrilled it is being demolished. That building had a good run, and yes it housed a lot of great memories, but the last thing downtown needs is another hobo hotel.

Suggest removal:

33Askmeificare(1226 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Response to lenhoff and of interest to some PART 1

You state, “I did not "give" the job to John Holt. The Board hired him. and it was their job to supervise him. Obviously, they didn't. I've been told they never ever received a detailed monthly financial report in the 3 years he was there.”

Certainly you must have known that the Board of Directors under you were lame duckers or directors who were “yes” men (and woman) to the whims of the “legendary” lenhoff.

How many directors were carried over from the theater manger before you? What changes in personnel and their responsibility descriptions have you initiated to ensure continued success? Understand this is far and very different from the good works you have mentioned (“$700,000 of past debt as well as pending lawsuits were retired. Subcriptions increased from 238 to over 2000.Talks were about to start about suing the general contractor and sub-contractors who had replaced the Playhouse's roof and main drainage lines.”)

Pass it off to the board because it is safe and to varying degrees, warranted. How many board members under you were inactive yet continued on the board? The board went with john holt because you sanctioned john holt. You knew you would only be at the Youngstown Playhouse for (give or take) a year upon your “return” in August 2004 and you were running out of time. Blame your second departure upon illness, but you are being MISLEADING. Even by your own admission you are misleading ( “At the request of the Board, my departure was not announced publicly as I was told that donors would not be as likely to donate if I were not there.” ).

You also state, “DeSousa is a mean-spirited, lying and lazy gossip-monger. Reading him is like eating a radish, you know it will come up again.”

Thank God DeSousa, love him or not, doesn’t kiss anyone’s ass or pinky ring. What happened Bentley, were you left embarrassed by holding out your ring or your hat?

Suggest removal:

34Askmeificare(1226 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

PART 2 Response to lenhoff and of interest to some

DeSousa lives here in our valley, our community. Bentley, you LOVED the theater, not Youngstown. What you did was FOR the Playhouse and indeed you did an incredible job. By the way, how is the weather in Michigan?

I very much understand the responsibilities of city government. Oh so much more than most realize. Kindly recognize the difference of government responsibility and individual acknowledgement by those in (local) government. Bentley, your influence here sadly has gone and going against the grain of public opinion regarding your son in law marc dann didn’t help you at all. Take a tip and follow Bob Grays’ example of retirement, quietly.

Uhm, why would you ask the residents of our community for money and donations and ask them to volunteer their time and also tell Ms. Griffith not to donate $50,000.00 (“By the way she asked me several years ago, if she should make that contribution, I told her not to under any circumstance.”) ??!! I’m sorry, did I accidentally support my statement regarding you being misleading? By the way, how is the weather in Michigan?

IRS ( internal revenue service ) records, I believe, show only one paid employee of the Youngstown Playhouse, yet there were indeed paid employees, and in the end, employees waiting for their CASH check. I wonder if these employees paid federal, state, local income taxes for their wages. How was it when you were there? How was it when your son in law marc dann was involved with the Youngstown Playhouse?? Oh my - now you’ll accuse me of being misleading or of being a coward anonymously spewing lies. By the way, lots of snow here in my hometown of Youngstown Ohio.

Lastly you state, “If you have a personal animus toward me, my phone number is in the book. Anonymously spewing lies as you have done, is the way of a coward.”

Animus toward you? I don’t even know what that means. Anonymously stating opinion and facts I have done. Lies I have not. But don’t worry because when ALL OF US go to trial I will state my full name. Thank God I’ve paid my taxes including city of Youngstown income taxes - where applicable, - where I proudly live.

Suggest removal:

35KnowtheFacts(8 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I made my statement and did not intend to address specifics in the posting. As for you, my friend, I will simply leave you to wallow in negativity which seems to be your favorite thing to do. However, if you will list specific questions, I'll be happy to do the research for you. I have access to administrators and board members who served in the PAST. They have agreed to provide me with background. They've also asked me to act as a clearing house for information rather than to respond individually. Using this group of individuals I think I can find information you require or at least steer you in the proper direction. Let's dedicate ourselves to TRUTH and THE POSITIVE rather than the spewing of vitriol. Also, I am curious; do you have a personal axe to grind? Did The Playhouse or someone associated with it fail to recognize your astute mastery of observation or your massive theatrical talents? Your posts sound like sour grapes in the guise of a concerned citizen. Or am I wrong???

Suggest removal:

36CBDactivist(125 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

This reading is better than the afternoon SOAPS!

Suggest removal:

37Askmeificare(1226 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

To CBDactivist:

lol I agree with you :)

Suggest removal:

38Askmeificare(1226 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

To knowthefacts

If you are referring to me, askmeificare, do not refer to me as (your) friend. I do not know you. Leave me alone to wallow in negativity and truth and opinion.

I very much question your statement that, “I'll be happy to do the research for you. I have access to administrators and board members who served in the PAST. They have agreed to provide me with background. They've also asked me to act as a clearing house for information rather than to respond individually.”

Are you a past theater manager? If a past Youngstown Playhouse manager, I think it is best for you to ride this topic out quietly.

Are (previous) administrators, board members, and employees scrambling for their 12 years of tax filings or are their fingers doing the walking in the yellow pages in the special attorney section?

Speaking with lenhoff and then posting his opinions in your words doesn’t make you a clearing house for information leader.

It makes you the coin flipside of wallower in negativity.


Suggest removal:

39ohhappyday16(4 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Dear Seriously,
The loss of the Playhouse may not be the complete loss of theatre in the Mahoning Valley, but it will certainly have a major impact. Every other theatre simply does not do the type of work or offer the community what the Playhouse does. Shall we go step by step.

The Oakland was founded to produce off-beat, avant garde theatre. Theatre that may not always be considered "family entertainment". Producing shows like Equus (which they did a number of years ago), The Full Monty, and Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead (both well-done).

TNT simply does not have the facilites to do what the Playhouse does. Though they have done some great productions recently, for the past couple years, they have tried to produce shows that simply cannot be produced in their space.

Salem's work has also been inconsistent. They as well are facing financial difficulties currently and sometimes, their volunteers are not the most reliable (example Beauty and the Beast which had to be cancelled for a number of reasons, one being the loss of a director).

Powers Auditorium- Well, Powers very rarely produces shows of their own. The last one I can remember was Tony N' Tina's Wedding (which was a blast!). Powers, though it has beautiful facilities (though like backstagediva mentioned, no wingspace of dressing rooms) is unbelievably expensive to rent. For this reason, Ballet Western Reserve and Easy Street have had to consider different venues in the past. Yes, even Easy Street tried to do a show at Boardman Performing Arts Center (Fiddler on the Roof). Also, the union fees to rent it out have become ridicously high. Also, Powers is suffering more and more each year financially. They even had to cut their Broadway series for lack in income and attendance. So what do they do? They go get a local theatre clique to put on shows there.

Suggest removal:

40ohhappyday16(4 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Enter Easy Street- Yes, they sometimes do great work. However, it is not a community theatre. People accuse the Playhouse to be a clique, yet I am wondering how Easy Street has not been criticized for the same. Todd Hancock, Maureen Collins, Jimmy McClellan (saw him in Doubt, one hell of an actor), among others have been in every single Easy Street show. They do not offer the community a chance to perform roles with them. Yes, you can go ahead and audition, but the shows have always had the leads pre-cast. What does this offer the community? Laughable ticket prices to see a bad Elvis impersonation in everything.

Stambaugh Auditorium is the same as Powers with their inaffordable rental costs. Also, if you can find the dough to rent Stambaugh, unlike Powers where you are getting experienced union members to work lights, soung, and staging type things, at Stambaugh you get a group of unprofessional, unexperienced kids (aka Rising Sun Productions). Also, Stambaugh is a concert hall, not a theatre. They do not have a fly system, wing space, or a theatrical lighting system.

YSU is educational theatre and therefore does not have open auditions. Also, the quality of shows have dramatically decreased since I started attending a number of years ago. It is always nice to see the young talent in this area, but because it is educaitonal theatre, do you really want to see a 22 year old attempting to play a 57 year old? The reality of theatre is lost. They also do not cater to a family audience

Suggest removal:

41ohhappyday16(4 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

To the community of Youngstown- Yes, Youngstown has a number of theatrical venues. Not one of them offers family entertainment at the quality the Playhouse does. Also, understandably, everyone seems to be looking at it from an audience point of view. Do not forget about actors, directors, stage managers, lighting designers... The Playhouse offered them great facilities to work in. As I state above, some of the other theatres in Youngstown do not offer the same acting opportunities of the Playhouse. Easy Street and YSU do not hold open auditions. Also, do not think for a moment that the Playhouse's closure will be the last. All other theatres are facing hard times. Eventually, without unanimous community support, their fates will be the same as the Playhouse's. The Playhouse's closing affects other theeatres also because the Playhouse always supplied other theatres with costuming, lighting, actors, props, and sets. Now, with each theatre having to make their own completely, we have upped the cost of production.

If you don't support the Playhouse, fine. But please then get out of the way for progress. People want the Playhouse to succeed.

Suggest removal:

42Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I have lived here for almost three decades now and I have seen many, many performances at the Youngstown Playhouse. I have never auditioned for a show. Not once. That is such Youngstown playhouse mentality, to accuse someone of being a jaded actor just because he or she doesn't agree with the way the place was (is) run.

Ohhappyday16, I would love for the playhouse to succeed. I would love for the Youngstown Playhouse to come back better than ever and enter a theatrical renaissance, and earn the prestige that goes along with the title "oldest running community theater." EARN. Not beg.

The sense of entitlement is what really gets on my nerves. I would love for the Youngstown Playhouse to get back to a place where ego does not supercede talent. Sadly, I don't see that happening.

Suggest removal:

43Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Also, I have no doubt that "people want the playhouse to succeed." I am not just not sure that those people accurately represent the citizens of Youngstown, Ohio.

Suggest removal:

44DrGoo(297 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I would assume, most citizens want the playhouse to succeed, if for no other reason than to make sure that another organization does not leave the area.

I want the Playhouse to succeed

Suggest removal:

45DrGoo(297 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago


I want the Playhouse to succeed, because it has a lot of potential to help people of the area. The Playhouse has played a major role in my, and other peoples lives. It would be awful if the Playhouse was not around for others to experience it.

I also understand how someone could be upset about the mismanagement that happened. It's hard to make excuses for the Playhouse's failures. Some mistakes were just bone headed.

I just hope that what ever happens will both benefit the City of Youngstown and The YOUNGSTOWN Playhouse.

Suggest removal:

46KnowtheFacts(8 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

To anyone wishing to spread misinformation and negativity; I will not engage in any sort of brinkmanship. I will do what I can with the resources available to me to answer any questions with factual information. Despite the negativity displayed on this site, I continue to believe there are enough people, both young and old, who want to preserve The Youngstown Playhouse. Pointing fingers and restating the past, adnausiam, is neither constructive nor worth one's time.

Suggest removal:

47Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

DrGoo, that is the most intelligent thing you've said on here. Kudos.

As for your comment, knowthefacts. That's what people usually say when they've royally screwed something up. Nobody wants pointy fingers around when they are the ones being pointed at.

I wonder if you do indeed know the facts. You haven't really presented any. People are asking questions. So bring it.

Suggest removal:

48aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

To Youngstown,

Plase stop being the butthole of the United States and get your act together.

Suggest removal:

49backstagediva1(17 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Ok so I lied. I really was not going to comment again but I have to. To ohhappyday16: thank you for putting it down as to the different genres each local theater caters to and by GOD I thought I was the only one who thought Easy Street had its own clique! But then again, I dont think Easy Street labels themselves as a "community theater" and therefore may be why they can get away with the clique and no one has brought it up.I think they are more like an ensemble group of players. Now if they do boast themselves as being a community theater,which I am sure that they don't, then they do have a hard core clique. NEXT: The Playhouse not only supplied area theaters with whatever they may have needed but we can't forget that those same theaters furnished the Playhouse in return. I recall Salem theater loaning The Playhouse costumes for their production of Carousel. Now THAT is true community theater commitment. All Theaters working together to bring quality entertainment and giving the public a variety of entertainment choices! If The Playhouse(the building) becomes extinct, and if one by one community theater as we know it disappears, I am so proud to have been a part of it!!! I am proud of all the fine people I have met in the 30 years I have been involved. I am proud to even know those who were "haters". I am proud that theater is the reason that my children are NOT doing drugs, are NOT school dropouts, are not criminals, but are still to this day involved in the arts! If anyone doesn't want to support the Playhouse, fine! But please continue to support community theater and whats left of it. Get involved! Join a theater board, go audition, work crew, attend classes. Get your children involved in the ARTS!!! God Bless the hard working people who dedicate their time and effort into bringing quality entertainment to the area. oh and one last thing: TheLostPatrol, may I ask what the hell does DMZ stand for?

Suggest removal:

50Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Backstagediva, I wish everyone at the Youngstown Playhouse had your heart and dedication. If that were the case, it would not be in the sorry state it is today. I really think you get what theater is supposed to be about. It is unfortunate that the good will efforts of you and a few others from that organization are eclipsed by the bloated heads of self proclaimed theater gods like John Holt, Dave Elhatton, and Mike Moritz.

Our local arts community needs more people like Joyce Jones, Jimmy Lybarger, and Pat Fagan. People who understand that a great performance is not about pretension and that theater is not a pissing contest.

One more thing. Can I just say, I wasn't prepared to read about Bentley Lenhoff's FISTULA first thing in the morning??? Ugh, I need some coffee.

Suggest removal:

51aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

In other news, if you'd like to know how to spell 'dictionary' you can look that up in one as well.

Suggest removal:

52Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Aeparish, I am laughing so hard that I am in pain.

Suggest removal:

53Askmeificare(1226 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

lenhoff, you haven't addressed the charges against you: internal revenue service, government responsibility, DeSouza / Vindicator - which you brought into this, and more. You are using bait and switch tactics, I imagine to garner distance between yourself and the problems of the Playhouse. Accept that you share blame in this and move on. Enjoy your retirement and kindly allow the people who love the Youngstown Playhouse (Our local arts community needs more people like Joyce Jones, Jimmy Lybarger, and Pat Fagan. People who understand that a great performance is not about pretension and that theater is not a pissing contest.). p.s. - please don't mention your health problems before we have all had our breakfast and coffee. There is no need for it and frankly, it's just gross.

Suggest removal:

54HereToServe(39 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

To Westsiders Comment

"The silence from Mayor Williams and the members of City Council - particularly the representative in whose ward the Playhouse sits -- is deafening"

There is no silence, City Council(especially the councilman in that ward) and the administration have been speaking about possible solutions for this.

Just because a press conference or public meeting has not been called does not mean that solutions are not being spoken about.

Also, there are efforts to clean up that area and get rid of the blight and crime in that particular area. In the Spring there will be landscaping done and the citizens once again will have the choice to approve the area to become a dry precinct.

Don't be suprised at what the City is able to accomplish to help area businesses.

One last thing for you to think about. The playhouse never came to the city with concerns or asking for assistance and still has not.

The Playhouse had the option to be moved downtown years ago headed by Claire Maluso but decided not to wanting to stay in there original location.
How great would it be to have a downtown arts area right now? It would be great!!

Suggest removal:

55anonymous2(3 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Mayor Williams needs to work on keeping the Youngstown Playhouse where it is at instead of worring about moving things closer to the suburbs; securing hockey, etc. Pretty soon there will be no history left in the city to share with generations to come. I think the Youngstown Playhouse is an important part of the city's history.

Suggest removal:

56aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Thank you anonymous2... I agree 110%.

Suggest removal:

57Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Yep, still laughing.

Suggest removal:

58Westsider(269 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I am tremendously pleased to know there is interest among city officials in helping to problem-solve this issue. Might I respectfully suggest that a meeting of concerned people be convened - and that applications for open board spots be developed so there might be new ideas and different resources tapped to help with this matter. The Playhouse no longer has an Executive Director - so there is no one to help oversee the effort. I am willing to volunteer for board service - but there appears to be no avenue into the group.

Suggest removal:

59anonymous2(3 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

It is understood that there are tough times right now in the country and in the Mahoning Valley, however, if neighborhoods are clean up and maintained; blight cleaned up, etc. them maybe people would venture out and enjoy themselves...why do city officials and others think all solutions come with shutting things down and moving to another location in the Mahoning Valley. Look at other countries...you visit and see beautiful buildings, culture, etc. but here in the Mahoning Valley everyone is so quick to tear down and rebuild. All that expense and energy could be put into 'revitalizing' what is already beautiful and historic!

Suggest removal:

60Westsider(269 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

No ego involved here - it is just that some well-known productions that are sure ticket sellers (not Titanic or Company) cannot be done in smaller venues that were not built for that purpose.

I am personally a strong proponent of regionalism - and there have been productive efforts to get the theatrical community to work collaboratively for the good of the arts as a whole (YACTA). Unfortunately, those who are the most involved in such efforts lack the deep financial pockets to invest in day to day maintenance and operations. The Playhouse is not the only building in need of repair - other theatrical houses in this area are also in need of "angels" to help make sure the buildings are safe so performances can continue and audiences can be comfortable.

It is true that Playhouse subscriptions increased under Bentley Lenhoff's return - but unfortunately, the quality of the productions (with often the same people in leading roles) did not inspire the continued financial commitment from patrons - especially with so many other entertainment choices. It was only a matter of time before the wheels came off the cart.

There are ways to make this work - but unfortunately, the few people discusssing the situation on this site will not be able to solve the problems alone or create the opportunities necessary to preserve the Playhouse.

Suggest removal:

61Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

"It is true that Playhouse subscriptions increased under Bentley Lenhoff's return - but unfortunately, the quality of the productions (with often the same people in leading roles) did not inspire the continued financial commitment from patrons"

I could not have said it better myself.

Suggest removal:

62DrGoo(297 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

The playhouse's performances have actually been the best in ages. The real problem is, no real community outreach. The reason subscriptions flourished under Bently was because people felt the Playhouse needed their help. In the last few years support started to change because either

A: People thought the Playhouse didn't need their help.

B: they felt as though they were blown off by SOME of the staff.

Suggest removal:

63Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

"The playhouse's performances have actually been the best in ages."

Ages? Really? Dr. Goo, what are you basing this information on? You can't be older than 25.

I am sure you are too young to remember, but the playhouse actually did some amazing stuff in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. Off the top of my head, I've seen performances of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Fiddler on the Roof, Evita, and Jesus Christ Superstar at the Youngstown Playhouse that put anything done there within the last ten years to SHAME.

Suggest removal:

64DrGoo(297 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I'm actually basing off what my theater professor that is old as dirt told me :-\. He never said what age he was talking about. I know the plays have been better than they were, maybe 8 years ago. I would even say that the plays are better than when Bentley ran the place. Not that I think those plays were bad...

Suggest removal:

65Westsider(269 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

That's true - for a number of reasons - not the least of which is that with the number of working people with busy young families - some of the better and most talented actors put their involvement on hold for a few years. However, once the show appears on the list for the upcoming season - it must be cast with whomever auditions.

Six weeks of rehearsals and a killer tech week is a commitment - and not everyone is able to do that. Other entertainment options are suffering from the same problems.

Suggest removal:

66DrGoo(297 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I don't think the playhouse is lacking for actors, but production value should probably not be discussed when talking about a community theater's finances. A lot of community theaters do not make money off of productions, which is why they are labeled as non-profit. They "make money" through things like grants and donor support. I have no idea what the business model for the Playhouse was, but chances are productions were not the main source of income. A least they should not have been.

Suggest removal:

67Buck_Turgidson(2 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I'm only going to touch on one point because I think people are missing the big picture...

Let's pretend the Playhouse was in 100% pristine condition. $1 million just fell out of the sky. Everything was updated and working beautifully. The fact that it still costs about $15,000 a month for utilities in the Winter would NOT change, though. So really, even if the place was tip-top, there would still be trouble keeping it open.

Saving the building is useless because this same issue would arise EVERY YEAR unless a massive annual donor popped up, and I really don't see that happening anytime soon. In fact, as soon as the economy took a massive blow, funding from the few sources the Playhouse had was drastically cut or even pulled altogether.

Times are tough for everyone, let alone the arts. The organization will survive, but it simply cannot do it in the current building. It's very very sad. That is the best equipped theatre from Cleveland to Pittsburgh, but it's a fact that we all must face. I know I will do all I can to support whatever venue is used in the future and I know dozens more who feel exactly the same way. The soul of the theatre is not in a flooded, dilapidated building, but in all the PEOPLE who give their time to produce quality shows. As long as these people are around, the show WILL go on...

Suggest removal:

68DrGoo(297 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

We all understand that the economy is bad, but in though times people need to be tougher. Even Bentley said it seems like the board has not exhausted their resources possible to save the building. It's hard to feel any pity for an organization that doesn't even do the minimum to try and fix things. The only thing worse than a loser, is a quitter.

Suggest removal:

69DrGoo(297 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago


Suggest removal:

70Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I think I need to ask the question that is on everyone's mind: Is there REALLY someone named Buck Turgidson???

Suggest removal:

71th(61 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

...and what exactly is Dr. Goo a doctor of? Or is is he some sort of timelord? :-)

Suggest removal:

72leftofstr8(33 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

All right Bentley, if you are still watching the post, and are willing to answer questions, lets put some out there and put the rumor mill to rest.

1) The interesting thing about the article was that the Playhouse was only supposed to postpone the season. If that is true, why was John Holt gone and not answering questions for the Vindy article? Is it because he just leaves a sinking ship, or are the rumors true that he was skimming money from the Playhouse, which is why the board never saw financials?

2) Is there really no problems with the IRS, or is the rumor that the IRS has billed the playhouse for ba

Suggest removal:

73leftofstr8(33 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

hmmm...sorry, stupid puter.

2) Is the rumor that the IRS has billed the playhouse for back taxes because there was never a quorum meeting of the board,so they lost their tax excempt status?

3) Did the pipes burst to "natural disaster" or did they never turn the water off when they closed the doors.

Inquiring minds want to know...

Suggest removal:

74Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

This entire situation WREAKS of corruption. If I was on the playhouse board, I wouldn't talk either. I'd be too embarrassed and ashamed. I'd move.

Suggest removal:

75leftofstr8(33 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I am sorry, I thought you were the one that said you would get questions answered for this thread, I must have gotten whoever wrote that wrong. I wish they would explain those answers to me then.

I will say, that I find your cavalier attitude about it all a little surprising. If you are as passionate about the playhouse as you said mr lenhoff, I would personally be keeping tabs on something I brought blood, sweat and tears to back to life, that even put me in the hospital for all my hard work as you suggest. Heck, I still check in on my club that I administered for 2 years every 6 months or so, to see how they are doing. They are more than happy to fill me in on things. If I cared about something, I would be checking in on it, not waiting for it to contact me. It goes to question your true intentions for the Playhouse, for personal agrandizement, or really caring, or do they just not trust you anymore to let you know what has been going on?

Suggest removal:

76MixMaster(4 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Seriously and Leftofstr8- your schtick is getting old.
If Bentley wishes to keep up on the day-to-day of the Playhouse, it's his choice. If he doesn't then I'm sure he's got other things to do. Regardless, it's not his job or responsibility to explain anything to you, is it? You've made it obvious that no response, no matter how accurate or honest is good enough for either of you. But you continue to instigate for no other reason than to be irritating.
The whole thing reminds me of a few kids throwing things and acting up on the school bus, just to get the busdriver to turn around and say "Who threw that?" Congrats, you've proven to be irritating. Now slink back down into your seats
and giggle to your hearts' content, because the majority of the kids on the bus aren't playing your game.

Suggest removal:

77Askmeificare(1226 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago


I agree with the comments of leftofstr8. lenoff says one thing and then says another, discrediting himself and what is left of his reputation unfortunately. I'm very happy to know that someone out there sees the same thing as I in his (lenhoffs) messages.

I believe that Dr. Goo, Pat Fagan, Joyce Jones, Brian Lee, Rand Becker, and Jim Lybarger should be given an open door opportunity to steer the Youngstown Playhouse ORGANIZATION forward. And if they can simultaneously and successfully save the building, which means drastically cutting the building maintenance budget, then wonderful . I can think of few others that have the ability and credibility to move the Playhouse organization forward.

That said, I agree with the comments made by Buck Turgidson (awesome pen name by the way) on January 13 2009 on this blog regarding the Youngstown Playhouse building structure and its hunger for finances. I am of the opinion that, sadly, that beautiful building is dead for theater purposes.

On a post on another blog, someone stated that there is an empty “theater” in the Huntington Bank Building. Please, does anyone have any knowledge of this they are willing to share?

Also, please, what specific location downtown did Claire Maluso, as posted by hereto serve on January 12 2009 in this blog (“The Playhouse had the option to be moved downtown years ago headed by Claire Maluso but decided not to wanting to stay in there original location.
How great would it be to have a downtown arts area right now? It would be great!!”), suggest the Youngstown Playhouse move to? Is it an area / location that can still be examined?

This is an excellent suggestion (move to downtown Youngstown), as well as to move the Youngstown Playhouse organization to the suburbs. Someone wrote that the Youngstown Playhouse will flourish in the suburbs and I’m sure the organization would. However, it is called The Youngstown Playhouse and its history is very, very deeply rooted in Youngstown.

Keep whatever may become of The Youngstown Playhouse in Youngstown. For the people and by the people of Youngstown, and the surrounding communities, the Youngstown Playhouse Community Theater welcomes all.

On January 11 2009 Seriously wrote, “Also, I have no doubt that "people want the playhouse to succeed." I am not just not sure that those people accurately represent the citizens of Youngstown, Ohio.”

Short, sweet and incredibly poignant. Right on.

Where is the major consensus of location for such a new Youngstown Playhouse Theater?

Answer one Answer all, kindly.

Suggest removal:

78leftofstr8(33 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Thanx 'Game' for taking my questions in context. And to the newly invented 'MixMaster', umm, did you notice I only posted on here twice, so I think it's far from getting old. I honestly don't care if Lenhoff answers, I just want some answers to put the rumors I have heard to rest, and neither he, you, nor anyone has. My second comment to him was a personal observation. I personally cannot sever all contact to an organization I have or HAD, a major stake in it's success or run.

I can agree that if there is a grant or generous patron out there who has $800,000 dollars available to renovate the theatre, it would be worth giving it another shot under full transparency of future finances to the community. I am also of the opinion that if that person or grant does not come thru, moving the playhouse "committee" to new digs is a wise idea.

I do have one more comment on first hand information I have about the running of the playhouse by Holt. There was a fund being set up to help the Arts community in Youngstown that would endow and pay for the building upkeep of the Playhouse, The Butler, The Historical Society, and the DeYor. Holt almost single-handily ruined that fund by fighting over the right of Stambaugh Auditorium to be a part of that fund, and rightfully so I think. Holt's steadfast refusal to let Stambaugh be a part of the fund, led to the funds demise, a shame indeed for the Arts in Ytown.

Suggest removal:

79MixMaster(4 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Thank you LeftoStr8 for omitting the snide remarks and actually writing something with an intelligent perspective. Like most people, I'm just trying to understand all sides to the problem, and all the egregious spitballing only dummies down the possibilities of meaningful communication.

I believe the Playhouse lost its footing mainly because of its location, and because of the community's unwillingness to drive down Glenwood Ave. This is nothing new. I also believe that
the failing economy plays a huge part as well.
The combination of the two is lethal.

I also believe that moving the theater someplace else is a smart idea. It comes down to two choices
1) no theater or 2) a theater in an area conducive to theatergoers.

Compare the Playhouse to what is happening to workers all over the US. You lose your job, you sell your house, and you buy something smaller.
It wasn't part of your dream, but here it is.
You deal with the crisis, and hopefully move on.

The new theater may not have the grandeur or opulence traditionally associated with the Playhouse. But that can happen if/when the economy rebuilds. In the meantime, I'd be ecstatic to hear more solutions and less hearsay.

Suggest removal:

80Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

"the grandeur or opulence traditionally associated with the Playhouse" Seriously? Are we talking about the same place??? I'm not even gonna touch that. I think anyone who has ever BEEN to the Youngstown Playhouse knows exactly why I just snarfed Pepsi Max all over my computer screen.

I'll BET my "schtick" is irritating to you. You are probably involved with the ridiculous farce we lovingly call the Youngstown Playhouse and you probably don't want me asking questions you don't want answered.

You can't blame people for wanting to know what's going on. I, like many local theater patrons, I'm sure, feel as though I have been misled. I want to know what the deal is and people in places of power are not telling the truth, or at the very least, are skating around it. Say what you want about snide remarks, but a lot of very good questions have been raised on this message board by myself and others, questions that are not being answered.

Nice "kids on the bus" metaphor by the way. Creative. I just hope the Youngstown Playhouse board isn't driving. The oil probably hasn't been changed in like a hundred years.

Suggest removal:

81MixMaster(4 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Uh, Seriously...

By your standards, disagreeing with you biases me toward the Playhouse. So if those same standards are applied to you, wouldn't you be considered anti-Playhouse?

And if you are anti-Playhouse, then wouldn't it stand to reason that you'd eagerly swallow and regurgitate any form of gossip and hearsay-no matter how unfounded or accusatory- in hopes that others do the same?

Are you really seeking answers, or are you just seizing an ideal opportunity to badmouth a place you don't like very much?

Your reasons for hating the Playhouse are your own, and they may have merit. But by proposing that anyone who believes the opposite of what you believe is involved with the Playhouse, you're revealing a bias of your own. In a court of law, you're not what we'd call a credible witness.

And if reading while drinking Pepsi Max is such a challenge for you, might I suggest you try swallowing less.

Suggest removal:

82Ken(153 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

What activity was going on Saturday afternoon around 1:30 that had five vehicles parked at the Playhouse front door?

Suggest removal:

83chachaangelina(1 comment)posted 7 years, 6 months ago


I will NEVER forget as long as a live, how I spent two years of my life, as a labor of love, writing32 songs and a manuscript titled "Remember Idora!"only to have it twisted into a copyright infringement by the Younstown Playhouse.

I then went to Youngstown and staged my play, Remember Idora, myself at Powers Auditorium with a cast of 186 individuals and the assistance of the Judy Conti dancers.

Silly Playhouse. Silly, silly Playhouse.
All I wanted to do was bring joy to my town and they turned it into a nightmare, pirating my play.
If you're going to pirate from me, make the script better, not worse.

I would still love to bring my show to Younstown.
It would raise money for a theatrical group.
Approximately 6,000 people saw "Remember Idora," my show, Memorial Weekend 2003.

It was the most wonderful experience of my life.

Silly, silly Playhouse.

Angela Victoria Woodhull
(352) 332-0515

Suggest removal:

84DrGoo(297 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Hahahahaha, this is nuts the polka Queen has posted.

Suggest removal:

85Seriously(22 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Mixmaster, can you really blame me for being biased? This story is a little hard to swallow. I'd have to plug my nose, close my eyes, and chase it down with a bottle of vodka.

I have been a resident of the city of Youngstown for a long time. And I have some very fond memories of the Youngstown Playhouse. Its current state makes me very sad. Sad and angry. Someone (or, more accurately, several someones) truly dropped the ball. The question at hand, is should we buy them a new one?

I say no. I am very much against sinking more money into a building/organization that is falling apart DESPITE a 2 million dollar renovation that supposedly took place a few years ago. This is an organization that people are accusing of tax fraud, among other things. So I think my feelings and questions are warranted. I am not posting "just to be irritating." I want answers. No one is offering them.

I keep reading that the Youngstown Playhouse needs at least a million dollars to get back on its feet. A MILLION DOLLARS. We live in Youngstown, Ohio, people. There is certainly no shortage of nonprofit organizations that need and DESERVE funding.

People keep writing about how bad the neighborhood surrounding the Playhouse is. Fine. Invest a couple million into the neighborhood. Spend it on after school programming to keep kids off the streets. Spend it on scholarships for inner city school children. Demolish some of the abandoned buildings, and renovate the ones that can be saved. Hire more policemen. Don't invest the money into an organization that clearly mismanages funds, has little to no accountability, and besides that, caters primarily to privileged out of towners.

Suggest removal:

86s_black(40 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I have to agree with left and seriously here. Where are the financial records? Where's the accountability? We keep hearing that the neighborhood is the problem, but come on, as a lifetime area resident, I know that that neighborhood has been a problem for more than 20 years. Lots of fingerpointing. No real answers.

Suggest removal:

87DrGoo(297 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

The problem with the location argument is that

A: Non profit theaters do not make money(profit) off of people going to the theater. Most of the money comes from donors that don't even go to the plays.

B: The playhouse recently sold out performances of Grease. If the they were really concerned about audience why dont they do more shows that attract people who aren't as scared of the area? Ie a younger crowd...

Suggest removal:

88Askmeificare(1226 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

What are the youngstown politicians doing and saying about it? What is the 5th ward drennen councilman doing and saying about the Youngstown Playhouse?

Suggest removal:

89MixMaster(4 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

And yes, I agree with Seriously's recent comments. A million dollars? Invest it in the city and neighborhoods.

Suggest removal:

90localtalent(1 comment)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

The shame of it is that the Playhouse and Easy Street are closed off organizations, which do not invite new talent to audition. If you don't have a constant infusion of new talent, parents and volunteers, YOU WILL NOT SUCCEED IN COMMUNITY THEATRE. There is so much talent in our area, from musicians to trained dancers...singers, actors. Yet, it is impossible for these young people to get a foot in the door because they don't know the "right" people. In addition, older actors who want to stay involved are put off by the lack of consideration, organization and professionalism in local theatre (not to mention, ridiculous politics.) Sure, we are a small town, but should we not expect to put on fantastic and professional productions? Do we have to have a small town vision?

I stopped going to Easy Street years ago because I got soooo tired of seeing the same people do the same tired act. I haven't been to the Playhouse to see a production for over 15 years. The playhouse ignores local talent, and does not actively pursue outside directors, choreographers and musical directors to bring in fresh eyes and ears. They have become tired, old and inconsequential. If you ask me, they should tear down the building, too. It never was a nice theatre to look at anyway. Start something new, Youngstown....and stop trying to be the city you were 30 years ago. If we're ever going to prosper here, we have to become a new city!! Appreciate the past, but BUILD a new future!

Suggest removal:

91KnowtheFacts(8 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

To localtalent; I disagree with your blanket statement. From 2000 through 2003 while Bob Vargo was Managing Director, auditions were open to ALL. Board members were not permitted to direct or 'STAR' in productions and a mentoring program for new directors (of which I was one) was initiated. Those from other amateur theater groups were regularly cast. Vargo himself, never appeared on stage. He also initiated a Theater Cooperative which involved more than twenty groups who met to discuss and solve local theater problems. In all fairness to Easy Street; they are a semi-professional theater group in that they have a core group of performers, some of who are paid for their work. Easy Street is therefore, not a community theater.

Suggest removal:


HomeTerms of UsePrivacy StatementAdvertiseStaff DirectoryHelp
© 2016 Vindy.com. All rights reserved. A service of The Vindicator.
107 Vindicator Square. Youngstown, OH 44503

Phone Main: 330.747.1471 • Interactive Advertising: 330.740.2955 • Classified Advertising: 330.746.6565
Sponsored Links: Vindy Wheels | Vindy Jobs | Vindy Homes