Announcing our 73rd season!

Announcing our 73rd Season Under the Kentucky Stars!

Dracula Bites!
By Duke Ernsberger
June 10-July 2
Back by popular demand…and funnier than ever! This kooky spin on Bram Stoker’s Dracula will you rolling in the aisles! The struggling Valley Dale Playhouse is in need of a hit, and so it turns to a pompous playwright’s new (and ridiculously serious) take on a classic.  But what starts as “real theatre” turns into absolute chaos as actors get stuck in coffins and literally swing from the rafters.  Zany fun for the whole family! Rated G.

Southern Fried Nuptials
By Osborne and Eppler
July 5-July 23
New play premiere!  Southern Fried Funeral made you laugh until you cried, so get ready for another round of Southern Fried Fun.  The Fryes are back, and this time it’s a wedding that needs planning, not a funeral. But what if the bride gets cold feet…and what if her smokin’ hot ex shows up out of the blue with a big surprise? (Don’t worry if you missed the first chapter; the second is stand-alone funny!) Another big helping of family comedy—southern style!  Rated G.

Cockeyed
By William Missouri Downs
July 26-August 6
What if you were madly in love with someone who couldn’t see you—literally?  Philosophy major-turned accountant, Phil, has a giant office crush on his boss’s secretary, but the gorgeous Sophia doesn’t even know Phil exists.  What can a nice, but average-looking guy, do to get the attention of the gal of his dreams? Don’t miss this witty and fantastically farcical take on modern romance! Rated PG.

Elvis and Patsy Cline
Together Under the Stars!
August 12-13
Tribute artists Barry Lockard and Nathalie Berry bring the music of Elvis and Patsy Cline to vibrant life on our historic stage!

Music Weekend
Powerplay Free Concert!
August 19

Special Musical Guest! To be announced!
August 20 (This is will a ticketed event.)

 

Joe Deuce Headlines Pioneer Playhouse’s Comedy Weekend!

Joe Deuce, a rising star in the world of stand-up comedy, will headline Pioneer Playhouse’s 2021 Comedy Weekend happening on August 13 and 14 on the historic stage in Danville.

“Joe is a Playhouse favorite,” says Robby Henson, artistic director of the theatre his father, Eben C. Henson, founded in 1950. “He’s worked with us both as an actor and as a comedian, opening for big names like Etta May and Lee Cruse. We know Joe is funny; we believe in him, and so we’re thrilled he’s headlining this year.”

“We’ve been hosting a comedy weekend for about fifteen years now,” adds Heather Henson, sister to Robby, and managing director. “It always comes after the final play of the season, and it brings in some Playhouse regulars, but also a slightly different crowd, people who enjoy the stand-up comedy scene.”

Zach Wycuff

Along with Joe Deuce, there will be three other comics performing. Zach Wycuff, who was named the “Funniest Person in Cincinnati;” Sean Smith, who often performs at the Comedy Caravan in Louisville; and David Williams, who has performed on the Playhouse stage with Lee Cruse’s Comedy All-Stars.

Sean Smith

“It’s a terrific line-up of comics,” says Heather. “Pioneer Playhouse is definitely the place to be if you want to laugh.”

David Williams

Pioneer Playhouse’s annual comedy weekend will run August 13 and 14. An optional BBQ dinner is available at 7:00 pm before the 8:30 pm show. A bar serving wine, beer, and spirits will be open to those 21 years and older. Tickets are $20 for show only; $35 for dinner and show.

The Joe Deuce and Friends Comedy Show isn’t the only thing happening at Pioneer Playhouse that weekend. There will also be a special vintage photo exhibit on display. Cuttin’ Up: From Barber Shop to Stage will celebrate in images and words, the importance of the barbershop in African-American history and culture as a gathering place for stories, community and entertainment.

File photo
Festival goers view old black and white photos in a display during the Soul of 2nd Street in 2018.

“We are working with Michael Hughes and the Danville/Boyle County African-American Historical Society on putting this together,” says Robby Henson. “With a grant from the Kentucky Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities, we’re able to host the exhibit here at the Playhouse, but we’ll also be able to work with Michael on presenting a larger exhibit of photos at the annual Soul of Second Street Festival to be held on September 18 at Constitution Square in Danville.”

“Come on out for the comics,” adds Heather. “But also for this important and interesting slice of history.”

Pioneer Playhouse, Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre, is located at 840 Stanford Road in Danville, Kentucky. Tickets and more information can be found at pioneerplayhouse.com or by calling the box office at 859-236-2747.

Another hilarious comedy opens at Pioneer Playhouse!


Pioneer Playhouse of Danville wraps up its regular 2021 season of plays with Jeeves in Bloom, a lively British comedy adapted by Margaret Raether from the short stories of PG Wodehouse about an imperturbable butler named Jeeves who must always come to the rescue of his irrepressible employer, Bertie Wooster.

Jeeves in Bloom (July 27 through August 7) opens with Bertie and Jeeves traveling to the English countryside to pay a visit to Bertie’s Aunt Dahlia. What starts as a relaxing getaway from London quickly slides into delightfully silly mayhem as Bertie tries to play matchmaker to a tongue-tied friend and help his aunt solve her cash flow problems through midnight burglary, while inadvertently getting on the wrong side of a knife-wielding French chef who goes ballistic over suspected stolen recipes.

“My mom is a big fan of the original short stories by PG Wodehouse,” says Heather Henson, Managing Director of Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre, and daughter of founder Eben C. Henson and his wife, Charlotte Henson, who has continued the role of producer after her husband’s death in 2004.

“The stories were very popular in the 1940s and ’50s, and are considered British classics today. There was a super successful mini-series on PBS in the 1990s about Bertie and Jeeves, starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. So, when Mom saw that some of the same stories had been newly adapted for the stage, she immediately ordered them.”

“Mom, Heather, and I each take turns reading the plays we’re considering and then we talk them through,” says Robby Henson, brother to Heather and artistic director of the 72-year-old landmark theatre. “Jeeves in Bloom is a comedy of manners in the vein of The Importance of Being Earnest, but it’s lighter, sillier. We think our audiences will really like the dynamic between the impulsive Bertie character and his completely unflappable confidante and fix-it man who also happens to be his butler.”

“Our company is so strong this year,” adds Heather. “The play is directed by long-time Playhouse favorite Daniel Hall Kuhn, who has directed some of our most successful shows, like Not Now, Darling. And it stars Patricia Hammond, Silas Waugh, Jessa DeLuca, Adian Chapman, and Erika Lee Sengstack, who have all wowed audiences with their chameleon-like performances this entire season.”

Besides a play, Pioneer Playhouse offers a home-cooked BBQ dinner (pulled pork or pulled chicken) at 7:00 pm before the 8:30 show. Patrons dine in a shaded, outdoor courtyard where Charlotte Henson still plays guitar and sings during dinner.  The play is performed outdoors in a large, open amphitheater built entirely from reclaimed materials by the late founder.

“We are still playing it safe this year, not moving inside,” notes Heather. “If there’s light rain, we keep the show going, and folks can pull out their umbrellas and raincoats. If the weather worsens, we cancel and give a rain-check or refund.”

The Laughter Continues with Southern Fried Funeral!  

Pioneer Playhouse of Danville continues its 72nd season under the stars with Southern Fried Funeral, a heartfelt comedy about one quirky family coming together for their patriarch’s funeral. The play, which opens on July 6 and runs through July 24, was penned by the popular playwriting team of Osborne and Eppler.

Southern Fried Funeral is perfect for our audiences,” notes Heather Henson, managing director of the historic theatre her father, Eben C. Henson, founded in 1950.  “It has outrageously funny moments, but it’s also full of heart and soul with characters everybody can recognize and identify with.”

Set in a small Mississippi town, Southern Fried Funeral begins with local Dewey Frye’s death, an event that not only leaves his wife, Dorothy (played by longtime Pioneer Playhouse favorite, Patricia Hammond), to contend with sudden widowhood, but also to deal with a snake-in-the-grass brother-in-law (another Playhouse favorite, Daniel Hall Kuhn), a nosy church lady (newcomer Ashley Rose Jones), a son who thinks he’s won the lottery (second year alum Adian Chapman), and a couple of grown daughters (returning actresses Erika Lee Sengstack and Jessa DeLuca) acting like toddlers.

“As the official description of the play says, funerals can bring out the best and the worst, but also the funniest in people,” Henson acknowledges. “This play definitely puts an emphasis on the funny. It shows how laughter can get us through even the toughest of times.”

Southern Fried Funeral is directed by Jennifer Goff, Assistant Professor of Theatre at Centre College in Danville.

“We have a terrific relationship with Centre,” says Robby Henson, artistic director of the historic theatre, and brother to Heather. “Along with First Southern National Bank, Centre College is sponsoring this play. We also have several company members, both on stage and behind the scenes, who are either past or present Centre students.”

“We love our cast and crew this year, and we love our sponsors,” adds Heather.  “It’s our 72nd season here in Danville, and we could not keep going without all the support we receive, both from our sponsors and from our loyal patrons, some of whom have been coming since the very beginning!”

Southern Fried Funeral is the second show in the 2021 summer season, and will run nightly, Tuesdays through Saturdays. A home-cooked, hickory-smoked BBQ dinner (choice of pulled pork or pulled chicken) is available at 7:00 pm each evening before the show, which begins at 8:30 pm. Beer, wine and spirits are served at a bar inside the grounds to those 21 years and older.

Pioneer Playhouse is located at 840 Stanford Road in Danville. Tickets are $20 for show only; $35 for dinner and show. Discounts are available for kids and for groups.  Shows are outdoors, and performances will continue during light rain. If shows are canceled due to severe weather, rain checks or refunds will be given. Call the box office at 859-236-2747 or go online at pioneerplayhouse.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

Pioneer Playhouse Opens With Hilarious Comedy!  

 Pioneer Playhouse of Danville will open for its 72nd season under the stars on June 11 with Clue: On Stage, a zany adaptation of everyone’s favorite board game and cult classic movie.

“We’re so happy to be back to doing a full season,” says artistic director, Robby Henson, son of Col. Eben C. Henson, founder of Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre.  “Last year we had an abbreviated season, but this year, we’re back in full swing.”

Rehearsals on the historic stage have been underway since Memorial Day weekend, and much of the cast are familiar faces to those who attend Pioneer Playhouse shows regularly. Patricia Hammond and Daniel Hall Kuhn are two actors who have been traveling to Danville each summer for almost twenty years.

“Both Pat and Daniel have big followings here. Our patrons love seeing them on stage,” says Heather Henson, sister to Robby, and managing director of the theatre her dad started in 1950. “We also have Erika Lee Sengstack coming back for her seventh year, and Jessa DeLuca is on her third year with us. Also, Giancarlo Herrera, a terrific young actor from a few seasons ago has returned as well.”

“To say that Clue is a complicated show, is a big understatement,” adds Robby Henson, who is also directing the first show of the 2021 summer season. “Having such an incredibly strong cast makes a huge difference.”

Clue: On Stage is a relatively new play. The board game, which was originally created in England in the 1940’s under the name Cluedo, has been hugely popular throughout the world and through the decades. Clue was made into a movie in 1985 with big names such as Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Lesley Ann Warren, and Eileen Brennan, and Christopher Lloyd. The movie continues to be a cult classic today.  There is also a musical version of the game.

“We read this fairly new stage adaptation, and we just knew it was perfect for the Playhouse,” says Robby Henson. “Lots of energy, lots of mistaken identity, lots of silly characters running around trying to figure out what’s going on and who’s the murderer.”

“Our audiences are going to love it,” adds Heather Henson.  “It’s perfect for the times. Everyone needs to get out and laugh about now.”

And Robby Henson would like to emphasize the word out.

“My dad built a huge outdoor amphitheater and dining patio, and it’s the reason we were able to open for a short season last summer; it’s the reason we’re confident about opening for a full season this year,” Robby says.

“We’ve been doing theatre outside and under the stars for 72 years, and we’re still going strong, even during a pandemic,” adds Heather. “I guess we’re doing something right!”

Clue: On Stage runs June 11 through July 3, nightly, Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:30 pm. A delicious home-cooked BBQ dinner is available before the show at 7:00 pm in the outdoor courtyard. Dinner and show is $35 per person; Show only is $20. Pioneer Playhouse is located at 840 Stanford Road in Danville, KY. A full schedule of plays and information can be found at pioneerplayhouse.com or by calling the box office at 859-236-2747.

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Free t-shirt with Patron Pass purchase!

Looky!

It’s a HIP, NEW T-SHIRT, designed by local artist Brandon Long, and approved by Miss Charlotte!

Patron Passes are ON SALE now! REDUCED PRICE till January 1, 2021!

And IF YOU BUY A PATRON PASS, you get a coupon for a FREE T-SHIRT!! (2 Free t-shirt coupons with purchase of Super Passes!)

It’s the PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT for that special someone on your list!

Until January 1, 2021
Patron Passes for six admissions are $90 each (save $10!)
Super Passes for ten admissions are $150 each (save $15)

Call the Box Office, Mondays-Fridays, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 pm, 859-236-2747 or go online, www.pioneerplayhouse.com.

One free voucher with Patron Pass
Two free vouchers with Super Pass

Must pick up t-shirt in person or redeem voucher. (No t-shirt shipping).

See you next summer … safely outdoors and under the stars!

Announcing our 72nd season in the Bluegrass…

A little different, but still the same uniquely Kentucky experience you’ve come to love! 

Three Plays + One Comedy Weekend + One Music Weekend = Fun under the Stars!

Clue: On Stage
Adapted from the Paramount Pictures film written by Jonathan Lynn, and the board game from Hasbro, Inc.
June 11 – July 3  — Three week run!
Kentucky premiere! Straight from Broadway!

It’s a dark and stormy night, and you’ve been invited to a most unusual dinner party! You’re given an alias, a choice of weapons, and the host is, well, dead! So…whodunnit? And more importantly, who’s next? Join iconic oddballs Scarlet, Plum, White, Green, Peacock, and Mustard as they race to find the murderer before the body count at Boddy Manor stacks up!  Rated PG.

Southern Fried Funeral
By Osborne and Eppler
July 6 – July 24 – Three week run!

Dewey Frye is dead, and the rest of his family is left to pick up the pieces – if they don’t kill each other first! Not only must Dorothy Frye deal with sudden widowhood, she must also contend with a snake-in-the-grass brother-in-law, a nosy church lady, and a couple of grown daughters who’ve decided to act like toddlers. Funerals bring out the worst, the best…and the funniest in people! A big-hearted comedy about family – Southern style! Rated G.

Jeeves in Bloom
Adapted by Margaret Raether 
from the stories of PG Wodehouse
July 27 – August 7  — Two week run!

The quiet English countryside will never be the same after Bertie Wooster and his unflappable butler, Jeeves, pay a visit! What starts as a plan to play matchmaker for a tongue-tied, newt-loving friend goes hilariously wrong. Soon Bertie is fending off unwanted amorous advances, a bungling burglary, and a homicidal French chef! Can the one and only Jeeves save the day? A delightfully silly and high-energy comedy!
Rated G.

Plus…

Special Stand-Up Comedy Weekend starring Joe Deuce and Friends!
August 13 & 14

New! Live Music Weekend!

Powerplay 
August 20
A night of Rock n’ Soul with Horns! High energy band playing your favorite songs from the 60’s and 70’s! Don’t forget your dancing shoes!

Elvis Under the Stars!
August 21
A very special evening with Elvis Tribute Artist Barry Lockard (Breaking Up with Elvis) and friends! Channeling the King and paying homage to the Rupp Arena “concert that never was.” 

Note on safety precautions. Please read!

We are opening July 31st!  

We want to provide the Playhouse experience you know and love and keep everyone safe.

Seating capacity will be reduced to promote social distancing. Masks for patrons are required. Only one family member should come to the box office window.  You are welcome to make reservations online, but please do not print them out. They will be given to you when you come to the show  Please come early so there is not a crowd rush at show time.

DINNER: we will serve our delicious barbecue dinner but it will be boxed and brought to your table. Any reservation should tell us how many chicken and how many beef preferences in your party.  No reservations can be taken after 3PM on the day of show.