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Playhouse events will examine city’s past

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Staff report


On Sept. 19, 1977, Youngstown Sheet and Tube suddenly closed its Campbell plant and ushered in the collapse of the Mahoning Valley steel industry.

Now, 40 years later, the Youngstown Playhouse will examine two aspects of the city’s past – steelmaking and organized crime – in a series of events in March.

Dubbed “Forged in Steel,” the series will include films and panel discussions at the Playhouse on March 7, 8 and 9. These will be on the days between the weekend performances of “Harry’s Friendly Service,” which is set in Youngstown in the late 1970s.

“Harry’s Friendly Service” was written by Boardman native Rob Zellers, and takes place in a gas station in downtown Youngstown as the steel mill era was starting to come to a devastating end. The Playhouse performances will be the Mahoning Valley premiere of the drama and will be at 7:30 p.m. March 3, 4, 10 and 11, and at 2:30 p.m. March 5 and 12. All performances will be at Ford Theater, inside Bliss Hall, on the Youngstown State University campus, and not at the Playhouse. For tickets, call 330-788-8739 or go to

The three midweek events are grouped into themes and are as follows:

March 7: Steel. The 1935 documentary film “Steel Town,” which is about Youngstown; and the 2010 documentary “Youngstown: Still Standing,” written and directed by John Chechitelli, will be screened. A panel discussion with local history experts will follow.

March 8: Organized crime. “Traficant: Congressman of Crimetown” (2015), by filmmaker Eric Murphy; and “Gangsters,” a WKBN-TV report by former newsman Tom Holden, will be screened. A panel discussion with Murphy, Chechitelli, former Mayor Pat Ungaro and others will follow.

March 9: Renaissance. Short films about the Idora neighborhood and Mill Creek Park, folllowed by a panel discussion featuring Zellers, among others.

Each event starts at 7 p.m. Admission is $5.