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.

#          #          #

Pioneer Playhouse’s 70th season continues with swingin’ 60s London comedy

Pioneer Playhouse continues its 70th season under the stars with Not Now, Darling, a fast-paced comedy set in swinging 1960’s London.

The plot of Not Now Darling, written by Ray Cooney and John Chapman, centers around a London shop that sells top-end fur coats. One of the owners of the shop, Gilbert Bodley (Drew Sutherland) plans to sell an expensive mink to London mobster Harry (Eric Hedlund), dirt cheap for his wife, Janie (Katherine Rose Reardon.) Janie is actually Gilbert’s mistress, and he wants to “close the deal.”  But instead of doing his own dirty work, he gets his nerdy, reluctant partner, Arnold Crouch (Forrest Loeffler) to do it for him. Things start to go awry when Harry tries to buy the same mink at the same low price for his own mistress, Miss Lawson (Bailey Angel.)

“We’re going for ‘retro’ here,” says Heather Henson, managing director of Pioneer Playhouse, which her father, Eben C. Henson, founded and which is Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theater. “It’s an old-fashioned farce with lots of door-slamming and mistaken identity. It’s something like the comedy Boeing Boeing, which patrons absolutely loved when we did it a few years ago. Just a lot of running around and silly situations.”

“It takes you back to swinging London,” says Heather’s brother, Robby, who is artistic director of the 70-year-old summer stock. “We always like doing plays with costumes from that era. It’s always stylized and over the top.”

“Lots of fur,” Heather adds, “since it’s about a salon that makes stylish fur coats. Of course, this isn’t the most popular play with our actors — we’re asking them to wear fur in the middle of summer! But the fun thing is, they’re constantly taking the fur on and off, so I guess you could say, the fur really flies in this one,” Heather says with a smile.

Directing Not Now Darling is longtime Pioneer Playhouse favorite, Daniel Hall Kuhn, who is often seen on stage rather than behind the scenes.

“Daniel is a terrific director,” says Heather. “We thought he’d be great for this kind of crazy hi-jinks play, and then, of course, he’s staying on to star in our last show of the season, Red, White and Tuna.”

“Daniel has starred in our Tuna shows before, and audiences just love him,” says Robby, referencing the plays written by Ed Howard, Joe Sears, and Jason Williams, and all centered around a group of folks from Tuna, Texas, third smallest town in the Lonestar state. “Daniel and one other actor will be playing about 30 characters. Lots of quick costume changes!”

Not Now Darling opens July 23 and runs through August 3. Shows are nightly, Tuesdays through Saturdays, at 8:30. An optional home-cooked dinner of BBQ pulled pork or chicken is available at 7:30 before the show.

Reservations are suggested for the play; required for dinner. Price for dinner and show is $35; show only is $20.