Youngstown Playhouse honors longest-serving member

Joe Scarvell acted in his first Youngstown Playhouse production in 1958

Joe Scarvell, 85, said he has no plans to retire from acting and directing at the Youngstown Playhouse.


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Joe Scarvell isn’t slowing down as he gets older. The 85-year-old was honored as the Youngstown Playhouse’s longest-serving member after Friday night’s premiere of “The Odd Couple.”

Scarvell is directing “The Odd Couple” — 58 years after his first performance at the theater.

He said he is lucky for the Youngstown Playhouse. Although he is a director, he says his true love is acting.

“I keep telling them I don’t want to direct anymore. It’s true, I don’t. I want to act. At 85 years old, there aren’t too many leading men roles for me,” he said, laughing.

Scarvell has landed a few acting roles lately, however, most recently playing a rabbi in the last production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Scarvell’s first Playhouse performance — in “Anna Christie” — was in 1958. The theater is where he met his wife, Joanne. The two have been married for 55 years.

He made his living teaching theater, first at his alma mater, Farrell High School, and later in the New Castle Schools, at Kennedy Catholic, Youngstown State University and Westminster College.

In the theater, Scarvell said you learn a lot about life.

“There are lines from many plays that I call upon to make my decisions after different times,” he said.

Those who have worked with Scarvell admire his dedication.

“Joe’s top of the mountain, man. If there’s a Mount Rushmore of the Youngstown Playhouse, he’s the first face carved into it,” said actor David El’Hatton.

Added Christopher Fidram, “At the heart of it, he truly cares about his actors, and he cares about the experience that we’re having on stage.”

That’s because Scarvell has been there — as an actor, teacher and director.

He said he has no plans to retire, either.

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