As Youngstown Playhouse opens 93rd season, it’s still special to many

Joe Scarvell has been acting and directing since 1958, while his friend Lynn Rafferty started just four years later

This is the opening weekend for the 93rd season at the Youngstown Playhouse. And no doubt -- from the actors, to the stage crew, to the audience -- the Playhouse has a very loyal following.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – This is the opening weekend for the 93rd season of the Youngstown Playhouse. And no doubt — from the actors, to the stage crew, to the audience — the Playhouse has a very loyal following.

“I’m looking for my pictures,” says Joseph Scarvell, actor and director for the Youngstown Playhouse.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for Scarvell, these plays are worth a thousand pictures.

“It discusses culture, religion, philosophy — everything,” he said. “That’s what plays do.”

Scarvell is 86 years old and there’s nowhere he’d rather be than at the Youngstown Playhouse.

“As old as I am, I still want to do this,” he said. “I don’t wanna go bowling or fishing or golfing.”

Scarvell has been acting and directing since 1958. His friend Lynn Rafferty started just four years later.

This weekend, they’re both in the audience for the opening of the 93rd season at the Youngstown Playhouse.

“Youngstown is lucky because this is one of the oldest theaters in the country,” Rafferty said. “Community theaters.”

But that history doesn’t stop them from trying something new.

This year’s opening performance is August Osage County.

“It’s an excellent play,” Rafferty said. “It’s very different. This is different from what the Playhouse usually does.”

It was written within the last 10 years. That’s a big switch, as the Playhouse typically sticks with classics for its main stage.

“We need to attract younger audiences,” Rafferty said. “And the younger audiences sometimes don’t want to see the old chestnuts.”

“The culture changes and everything changes with it,” Scarvell said. “Even our clothing changes. Our verbiage changes. We are saying words now we never said. You have to keep up with the times.”

Times these two say need the theater’s message.

“The Playhouse — the theater — accepts all people,” Rafferty said. “It doesn’t make any difference what your religion is, the color of your skin, your background. The theater welcomes you.”

There’s an afternoon show Sunday and then all next weekend as well.

For more on the Youngstown Playhouse, check out its official website here or its Facebook page here. 

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