Executive Staff

Charlotte Henson

Click for a biography and slide show of our beloved founder, Charlotte Henson.

Robby Henson

Robby Henson, Producer/Artistic Director
Robby started directing plays at the Playhouse long before he was an award-winning filmmaker working with such stars as Kris Kristofferson and Billy Bob Thornton, and Academy Award-winners Patricia Arquette, Patricia Clarkson, and Chris Cooper.

His feature-length films include Pharaoh’s Army, The Badge, The Visitation, Thr3e, and House. Robby has also written many of our Kentucky Voices hits such as Good Blues Tonight, Breaking Up with Elvis and The Wonder Team.

He is the force behind our life-changing Voices Inside Prison playwriting program, and his documentary on prison poets, I Come From, was featured on PBS. Robby teaches film classes at the University of Kentucky, and his first novel, Loud Water, was published by Down & Out Books (2003). He and his wife, Lin, live in Kentucky.

Heather Henson,  Producer/Managing Director

Heather grew up on stage and working behind the scenes right here at the Playhouse. She lived in New York City for seventeen years while pursuing a career in publishing and writing. She is the author of many award-winning books for young readers, including That Book Woman, which has been adapted for the stage by Holly Hepp-Galvan, and is our second play of the 2024 season! That Book Woman celebrates the remarkable work of the Pack Horse Librarians of Eastern Kentucky, and has been published around the world. Her latest novel, Wrecked, is a contemporary reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, set in Kentucky and dealing with addiction. Heather’s husband, Tim Ungs, and their three kids, Daniel, Lila, and Theo, all help out at the Playhouse!

Holly Henson, Executive Artistic Director 1960-2012

Holly Henson began performing at an early age at Pioneer Playhouse, the theater her father, Eben C. Henson, founded in 1950.  She went on to study drama at Stephens College in Columbia, MO, and at the Drama Studio of London, and later lived in Los Angeles and Minneapolis, pursuing a career in film and stand-up comedy. Each year, Holly returned to Danville and the Pioneer Playhouse, during the summer months to help run Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theater, eventually taking the helm after the passing of her father, “the Colonel,” in 2004.  Under Holly’s dynamic direction, attendance at the historic theater grew steadily to nearly 10,000 patrons per summer.  Holly’s many accomplishments includ ed forming stronger bonds with the Danville community by initiating an annual local history play and by extending arts outreach to include more programs for young people, as well as the groundbreaking prison writing program, VOICES INSIDE.  Holly was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago, but never let the disease define her.  She continued to run the theater and to travel extensively to stand-up clubs throughout the Midwest in between chemo treatments.  She had recently returned to Danville to live full time with her husband, Tom Hansen.  On May 27, 2013, just two weeks before the start of the 63rdseason, Holly Henson died where she had lived:  at her home, not a stone’s throw from the legendary stage she had worked so hard to preserve.

Col. Eben C. Henson, 1923 – 2004

The founder of Pioneer Playhouse served as location representative for six major movie companies and was author of the book How to Play the Voice as an Instrument. This former mayor of Danville has been a leading force in bringing film productions to the Bluegrass area and served in that capacity under six governors. For his work in helping establish the outdoor drama movement in the state, he received the Governor’s ‘Pioneering Award.’ Along with Rosemary Clooney and Loretta Lynn, he was one of six recipients to receive a Sidewalk Star in downtown Lexington.

As president and founding member of the Kentucky Arts Commission, he once visited the White House to consult on the formation of the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to establishing the first State Theatre in the nation, he was also instrumental in helping form Kentucky’s first Film Commission — bringing an additional 14 movies to the region