Youngstown native’s film gets digital box-office boost

“Preacher’s Kid,” the film written and directed by Youngstown native Stan Foster, had a modest big-screen run when it was released in January. But it’s doing very well in its post-theater phase.

Want proof? Look no further than your nearest Redbox, which carries only a few dozen of the most in-demand titles. “PK” is in there.

And “Preacher’s Kid” has done especially well in digital distribution, denting the iTunes top movie downloads list.

It’s not just select markets where it has found new life, either. “It’s all over the country,” said Foster. “Doing very well.”

“Preacher’s Kid” was released May 4 on DVD. It showed up at No. 33 for that week on the iTunes download list — an amazing feat for an independent film (it’s on Warner Premiere/Gener8xion Entertainment). Sales figures are not revealed by iTunes.

“Preacher’s Kid” — starring LeToya Luckett, Tammy Townsend, Durrell “Tank” Babbs, Gregory Alan Williams and Essence Atkins — has a prodigal-son theme. Luckett is the sheltered title character who strikes out on her own in the gospel-play circuit.

The PG-13 film targeted urban markets, including Youngstown, in its theatrical run, but has shown crossover appeal.

Youngstowners also might be interested in the many Mahoning Valley references that Foster has inserted. The film was the first directing gig for Foster, a 1978 South High graduate who appeared on the TV show “Tour of Duty” and wrote and produced the film version of “Woman Thou Art Loosed.”


The biggest title of the 2010-11 theater season at high schools and colleges will undoubtedly be “The Phantom of the Opera.”

B&H Theatricals, which has the rights to the magnificent Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, recently announced that it will accept applications from school groups (but not community or professional theaters) in the U.S. and Canada for performances beginning Sept. 1.

Look for multiple productions in the fall and spring on local high school and college stages. David Mullane, director of the Boardman Drama Guild, already has said that he is definitely seeking the rights.

The gothic tale of romance set in the Paris Opera has been seen by 100 million people since it opened in 1986. It is still playing in London and New York, where it is the longest-running show in Broadway history.

“Phantom” is also the most successful and longest continuously-running tour in U.S. history, although that tour is now in its final months. It will make two stops in the region: a four-week run opening July 28 at Cleveland’s Palace Theater, followed by a similar run at Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center beginning Aug. 25.

With worldwide grosses estimated at more than $5 billion, “Phantom” is the most successful entertainment venture of the 20th century, topping blockbuster films such as “Avatar,” “Titanic,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Jurassic Park” and “Star Wars.”


Last week’s recitals by Judy Conti dance studio at Stambaugh Auditorium marked the end of an era.

Conti’s groups will still perform at Stambaugh, just like they’ve done since 1974.

But the stage rigging — which has been in place since 1926, when Stambaugh opened — has seen its last show.

Beginning next month, the original riggings (along with lights and curtains) will be removed and replaced with a modern motorized version with increased load capabilities. It should make Stambaugh more attractive to theater producers.

The rigging is suspended over the stage and is used to lower and raise lights and curtains. The project’s $200,000 price tag comes from a state grant that Stambaugh received last year.

Tiffin Scenic Studios of Tiffin, Ohio, is handling the replacement, according to Matt Pagac, Stambaugh stage manager. Pagac noted that the concert shell and the stage ceiling will remain in place to insure that the hall’s superb acoustics remain intact.

So if Conti & Co. are the last to use the rigging, who was the first? That would be Will Rogers, back on Dec. 6, 1926.

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