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After long 18 months, opening night finally looms: Youngstown Playhouse set to return

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s been a long year and a half with the curtain pulled at the Youngstown Playhouse. On September 24, their debut show since COVID-19, “The Color Purple” will have its opening night.

Their steps are down and their notes are on pitch.

“We are beyond excited to be open again. The world has been missing so many things and we personally have been missing theater,” said Joshua Green, Youngstown Playhouse artistic director.

After six weeks of practice and more than a year without theatre, the cast of “The Color Purple” is ready to take the stage.

“It’s like coming back for a reunion. It feels like … finally,” said James, a cast member.

“I love doing theatre. I love how it makes me feel, and I love the response of the audience and how it makes them feel. So, to get back into this is just going to be so many emotions. I’m probably going to cry,” said Wayne, another cast member.

And if their emotions and joy aren’t enough to evoke it in you, the story of “The Color Purple” will.

“It’s a very raw show, and it exposes a lot of the human problems that you will go through in your life,” Green said.

This is the first regional performance of “The Color Purple.” With an all Black cast, they tell the story of main character Celie. It’s one of hardship – but also triumph.

“It definitely shows the Black experience in that post-slavery time in a way that you’re not gonna see in other shows and other movies,” Green said.

The show won’t be on the Youngstown Playhouse stage though. It will be at the DeYor Performing Arts Center — a decision that was originally made because of capacity limits on theatre shows.

“And we thought, yeah, let’s do it. Twenty-five percent, there is so much there than 25% here. Then we got the very quick blessing right after we did it, then we would be fully open, so now we get to go guns ablazing,” Green said

DeYor seats 2,500 people, but they’ll only sell 1,800 tickets to keep room for social distancing. Tickets can be purchased through the Youngstown Playhouse’s website.

“People coming to the show do not have to be vaccinated, but they do have to wear a mask,” Green said.

Masks or not, people in the seats of the theatre as the curtain opens is a sight the cast has been longing to see.

Green says he is a little worried about theatres staying open, should more mandates be put in place, but he’s optimistic and they’re planning ahead to hold more shows as normal.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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