Playhouse extends ‘Cats,’ recaps year


By GUY D’ASTOLFO

dastolfo@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Its season doesn’t begin for another three weeks, but the Youngstown Playhouse already has extended the run of its opening production.

The theater will begin with the musical “Cats” on Sept. 11, which was scheduled for six performances. But due to strong demand, it is adding a seventh show Sept. 20, said Bernie Appugliese, the theater’s manager. For “Cats,” the box office opened Aug. 3 for Flex Pass season-ticket holders, and Monday for the general public.

David Jendre, who directed last season’s successful opener, “A Chorus Line,” will return to helm “Cats.” The Playhouse almost always opens its year with a smash Broadway musical.

The theater celebrated its 90th season in 2014-15. It was another year of continued growth since overcoming the financial woes that threatened its existence in 2008.

Paid attendance was strong last season. More than 10,000 ticket-buyers watched performances at the Playhouse last season, according to Appugliese.

The eight plays and musicals on the schedule accounted for 6,539 tickets sold (“A Chorus Line” sold approximately 1,900; “Fiddler on the Roof,” 1,600). The remainder came from other events, including fundraiser productions of “What We Did for Love” and a concert by Angelo Babbaro; the Voices of the Valley new play festival; Youth Theater productions; and “Willy Wonka,” which was presented by Playhouse partners Purple Cat Productions and attracted close to 1,000 patrons.

Appugliese outlined other highlights of the season in a report to the Playhouse board of directors.

A new rehearsal space and conference room were created off the main lobby using a $33,100 grant from the Youngstown Foundation and the J. Ford Crandall Foundation.

Improvements also were made to the heating and air-conditioning systems.

Season-ticket sales topped $27,000 – an increase of more than $2,000 from the previous year.

Other income included $33,000 in show sponsorships and about $20,000 from grants.