Party Down for Jan Sheffield, Sat. April 29!

One day, our own Jan Sheffield was wowing Pioneer Playhouse audiences in Southern Fried Nuptials; the next, she was being rushed to a Lexington hospital for emergency surgery to combat a sudden and rare infection in her spine.

Since then, Jan has been in a quadriplegic state. At every turn, there have been huge obstacles, but Jan continues to defy the odds!

Jan is a fighter! With her amazing husband, Jeff Cooper, constantly at her side, she continues to redefine what is possible.

So many of you have helped already—thank you!!!! But Jan needs 24/7 care, and all the physical therapy and medical equipment and home-care support that goes with that is, quite frankly, astronomical.

Pioneer Playhouse adores Jan and Jeff, and so we are throwing a Party Down for Jan Benefit here on Saturday, April 29th from 7-11 pm. Michael Fly and The Sounds will be grooving live on our indoor stage, and local restaurateurs and distillers are donating food and drink. A $25 cover will include food; the bar will be cash/credit. No silent auction, but we will have donation boxes at the event. All proceeds go to Jan and Jeff.

This is a fundraiser, but it’s also a celebration! Come on out and join together with Jan and Jeff and the rest of this awesome community to celebrate what strength looks like, and what the power of love and hope can do!

Buy tickets at pioneerplayhouse.com or call 859-236-2747 (M-F, 9-1)

Direct link to tix: https://pioneerplayhouse.csstix.com/event-details.php?e=168

Immediate Job Opportunity at Kentucky’s Oldest Outdoor Theatre!!

We are hiring!! Immediate Job Opportunity at Kentucky’s Oldest Outdoor Theatre!!
Part-time Office Manager
Perform box office and bookkeeping functions for arts education nonprofit. Manage contracts, payroll and tax reporting. Conduct ticket sales and staff scheduling/training for summer season. Provide phone and walk-in customer service. Advanced Quickbooks bookkeeping experience and strong interpersonal skills required.
Hours: 20 hours/week 9-1, M-F; more hours in summer with some nights and weekends. Salary based on experience.
No calls please! Email cover letter and resume to pioneerplayhouse@att.net.

Good giving challenge kicks off Tuesday, November 29

Pioneer Playhouse has been entertaining generations of families for nearly 75 years!

Please help us continue to do just that during The Bluegrass GoodGiving Challenge!!

The donation page goes live tomorrow, Tuesday, November 29 at 9:00 am!! Just click on www.bggives.org/pioneerplayhouse and give!!

Even $10 helps Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre! Funds will be matched at the end of the week so your donation goes even further!

Pioneer Playhouse announces 2023 lineup!

Covid 19 Safe and Very Entertaining!

Accessibility and accessible seating in all areas, including dining patio, play amphitheater,  restrooms and exhibits in indoor theatre. 

Performances nightly Tuesday-Saturday June 9 – August 12 Dinner & Show – 7:00pm Show Only – 8:30pm (EDT)

All performances are held outside.  In case of light rain, show continues.  If show is canceled due to severe weather, rain checks will be given.
order tix button

2023 Season – Celebrating 74 years!!

Blood Suede Shoes: A Sergeant Elvis Presley Murder Mystery By Robby Henson (Breaking Up with Elvis; The Wonder Team; Good Blues Tonight!) World Premiere event! June 9 – July 1 It’s the swinging ‘60s, and a threat to young Sergeant Elvis Presley’s life during stormy weather over Scotland forces an emergency landing near a spooky castle where London’s posh set have gathered for a séance.  In this zany new murder mystery mash-up, cultures clash, the body count rises, and a dashing young Elvis must use every bit of his down-home common sense and military training to catch a murderer! Family fun!! Rated G.

Farce of Nature By Jamie Wooten, Jessie Jones, and Nicholas Hope July 4  – July 22 Welcome to Reel ‘Em Inn, the finest little fishing lodge in the Ozarks!  Well, it used to be, but lately business is slow … until a jittery gangster from Chicago shows up, followed by a string of surprise guests, each with something hilariously fishy up their sleeves! Slamming doors, mistaken identity, crazy disguises, and an increasingly awful stench, make for a wacky roller coaster ride of a comedy, and some good ole Southern fried fun! Famiy fun! Rated G.

Kosher Lutherans By William Missouri Downs July 25 – August 12 Hanna and Franklyn are the perfect LA couple who desperately want to have a baby of their own, but can’t.  Enter Alison, a naïve, unmarried 18-year-old runaway from Iowa who’s pregnant.  It’s an adoption match made in heaven…except Alison doesn’t realize Hanna and Franklyn are Jewish, which leads to a few hysterical — and heartwarming — twists and turns on the road to parenthood. “A delightful comedy with message and heart.” (Louisville Courier Journal). Rated PG.

Special Stand-Up Comedy Weekend Starring Lee Cruse!! August 18-19 Co-host of the nationally-syndicated and hugely popular ‘The Lee and Hayley Show’, airing locally on WTVQ Channel 36, and a favorite here at Pioneer Playhouse, Lee Cruse has been making people laugh for over two decades! Lee has become the gold standard for comedy in the Bluegrass, and beyond. Don’t miss a chance to see Lee and his Kentucky All Stars on our historic stage!

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Rain Policy Pioneer Playhouse shows are held in our historic outdoor amphitheater. There is always a slight risk of rain when attending shows outside. All performances are held outside.  In case of light rain, show continues. If show is canceled due to severe weather, rain checks will be given. Shows are not considered rained out until show time. We may delay or pause to allow weather to pass. ALL SALES ARE FINAL AND NON REFUNDABLE If a performance is canceled or cannot continue due to rain, your ticket will be stamped as a rain check and may be redeemed for any performance during the season. Please hold onto the ticket and contact the box office to reschedule You may bring umbrellas. Umbrellas and ponchos are also available for purchase in our gift shop. In extreme cases of threatening weather we may cancel a show prior to curtain and will make an announcement on our social media pages. We want to provide the Playhouse experience you know and love and keep everyone safe. Seating capacity will be reduced to promote social distancing. Only one family member should come to the box office window. You are welcome to make your reservations online.  Please do not print out your tickets. They will be given to you when you arrive (and will not be torn). Please come early so there is not a crowd rush at show time. DINNER: Line up and be served a delicious, home-cooked dinner, then find your own seats in our shaded courtyard.  Dietary restrictions or vegetarian requests must be made before noon the previous day.  No dinner reservations can be taken after 3 PM on the day of the show.
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For show tickets, we encourage you to purchase online at pioneerplayhouse.com
 

Special Music Weekend Closes Out 73rd Season  

Pioneer Playhouse, Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre, located in Danville, Kentucky, will close out its 73rd season under the stars with a weekend of live music that’s sure to appeal to everyone.

On Friday, August 19 the locally grown group Powerplay will hit the stage for a free concert benefitting the historic theatre.

Powerplay started right here in Danville in 1974,” says Heather Henson, managing director of the theatre her father, Eben C. Henson, founded in 1950. “They were a group of friends from Danville High School who got together because they shared a love of the band Chicago. They were teens who played drums, guitars, and various horns, and they really clicked. They stayed together into their twenties, then all went their separate ways, lived in different places, but would join together every now and then. Once they’d all returned to Kentucky for good, they started playing regularly together and audiences love them.”

Powerplay continues with its Chicago covers roots, as well as playing rock and roll classics from the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond.

“They’re so much fun to dance to,” says Heather. “And I’m not biased because my brother, Eben (Eben Henson, Jr.), is the drummer. They’re all terrific musicians and the band is described as ‘funk and soul with horns,’ and that’s exactly what they are. You can’t sit still while listening!”

On the following evening, Saturday, August 20, Pioneer Playhouse will host an all-new Latin Night with the well-known Lexington band No Rulez Banda, which is headed up by musician and singer, Enrique Gonzalez.

Originally from the Amazonian jungle interior of Venezuela, Gonzalez is a well-known visual artist, songwriter, and singer who also performs regionally with the Big Maracas. Enrique describes his influences as “the sounds of the Amazon, the rain, the wind in the trees, the monkeys and the birds, and the mysterious silence that surrounds us, as well as the multitude of Latin dance grooves like Salsa, Samba, Mambo, Rhumba, Cumbia, and Chango.”

“We’re thrilled to have Enrique here,” says Robby Henson, brother to Heather, and artistic director of Pioneer Playhouse. “No Rulez Banda has a special vibe, and we’re excited to introduce them to Danville.”

Opening for No Rulez Banda will be Leo the Rapper, a hip-hop artist local to Bowling Green, Kentucky. In his own words, Leo says: “When I’m not writing or recording music, I’m filming, directing, and editing music videos and commercials. My love for the creative industry developed while I was incarcerated.”

In fact, Leo the Rapper and Robby Henson met during workshops for Voices Inside, the NEA-funded prison playwriting program Pioneer Playhouse has directed for twelve years.

“My first ever performances for music and acting and writing were in front of my fellow inmates,” says Leo the Rapper. “Fast forward to my freedom where I’m continuing my musical path as an independent artist. I’m incredibly grateful for what I’ve been through and where it got me.”

For Latin night with No Rulez Banda and Leo the RapperTaqueria Garcia will be providing an authentic Mexican menu. Taquaria Garcia is a family owned and operated food truck that has been serving delicious and authentic Mexican food to their hometown of Lawrenceburg and surrounding communities for almost 20 years.

“Our goal is to give our customers a little taste of Mexico wherever we are!” says owner, Admildo Garcia, who runs the business with his wife, Heidi Garcia.

For both shows on August 19 and 20th, music will begin at 8:00 pm and doors will open at 7:00 pm. A cash/credit bar serving wine, beer, and spirits will be open to those 21 years and older, and there will be a concession stand selling popcorn, soda, and ice cream.

The Powerplay concert is free and open to the public. Donation boxes will be available to benefit Pioneer Playhouse, which is a 501 c 3 non-profit.

Tickets for No Rulez Banda and Leo the Rapper are $12 each and are available in advance or online: 859-236-2747 or pioneerplayhouse.com. Tickets may also be purchased at the door the night of the event.

“We hope everyone will come out for our final weekend of music,” says Heather. “We had a terrific 73rd season, and we want to celebrate!”

A Modern Romantic Comedy at Pioneer Playhouse  

Pioneer Playhouse of Danville continues its 73rd season under the stars with Cockeyed, a witty and whimsical modern-day romantic comedy by award-winning playwright, William Missouri Downs.

Cockeyed, which opens July 26th and runs through August 6, tells the story of a nerdy accountant named Phil who falls hopelessly in love with his boss’s secretary, the beautiful Sophia, and who tries to win her heart despite the fact that she can’t see him – literally.

Cockeyed is an extremely well-written romance with a quirky high comedy concept,” says Robby Henson, artistic director of Pioneer Playhouse, which is Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre and which was founded by his father, Col. Eben C. Henson in 1950.” We’ve done several plays by the author William Missouri Downs, and besides having a fantastic pen name, he writes thought-provoking works about the foibles of the human condition with great characters, pratfalls, and brilliant dialogue. I think his comedy writing is influenced by his background in television and sitcoms.”

Adian Chapman, who has been a crowd pleaser at Pioneer Playhouse for the past three seasons plays Phil, while newcomer Peyton White plays Sophia. Silas Waugh, who gave memorable performances this summer as the fly-eating, lunatic Renfield in Dracula Bites and the steadfast Beecham in Southern Fried Nuptials, embodies the self-absorbed boss, while Jack Giglia who zip-lined over audiences this year as Dracula himself rounds out the small cast.

Making her directorial debut will be Erika Lee Sengstack, a long-time Pioneer Playhouse favorite.

“After eight years performing as an actress at the Playhouse, it’s been a true delight to be on the ‘other side’ as a director for Cockeyed,” says Sengstack. “Being that it’s the last show of the season, I’ve developed great relationships with the actors both on and off stage, which makes for a unique, intimate, and rewarding rehearsal process. They’ve been incredibly prepared, and helped my first directing experience at the Playhouse feel remarkably smooth and fulfilling.”

“We’re thrilled Erika is directing this smart, funny show,” says Heather Henson, managing director of the family-run theatre and sister to Robby. “It’s a perfect match.”

“I’m enjoying every second of it,” says Sengstack. “I think I found a new passion!”

And we’re excited to announce that the playwright himself will actually be here for a performance,” adds Robby.

William Missouri Downs will attend the show on Saturday, July 30, and audience members are invited to stay afterward for a Q&A with the playwright.

“It’s not every day that a nationally known playwright flies in to see a production, so we’re honored,” says Heather. “And we think patrons will enjoy learning more about the play from the writer’s perspective.”

Cockeyed runs nightly, Tuesdays through Saturdays, July 26 through August 6. A BBQ dinner is available before the show. Pioneer Playhouse is an outdoor theatre located at 840 Stanford Road in Danville Kentucky. For reservations and information, call the box office at 859-236-2747 or go online at www.pioneerplayhouse.com.

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Another Giant Helping of Southern Fried Fun at Pioneer Playhouse

Pioneer Playhouse of Danville continues its 73rd season under the stars with Southern Fried Nuptials, a heartfelt comedy about one quirky family coming together for the oldest daughter’s wedding. The play, which opens on July 5th and runs through July 23rd, was penned by the popular playwriting team of Osborne and Eppler and is a sequel to last year’s hit, Southern Fried Funeral.

“Audiences loved Southern Fried Funeral last summer,” says Heather Henson, managing director of the historic theatre her father, Eben C. Henson, founded in 1950. “When we saw that the playwrights had created another show with these same characters, we were pretty sure we wanted to do it. Don’t worry, though, if you missed the first one; this comedy is stand-alone funny.”

Southern Fried Nuptials again focuses on the frazzled Frye family of New Edinburgh, Mississippi. This time around it’s a wedding, rather than a funeral, that needs planning, but of course, nothing goes as it should. Bouts of cold feet, nosy neighbors, and the sudden appearance of an old flame all combine for a roller coaster ride of a comedy.

“Our audiences love a story that makes them laugh but that’s also heartfelt,” notes Robby Henson, artistic director of Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre and brother to Heather. “The characters and situations in this play are over the top, but also very relatable.”

Several actors will be reprising their roles from last year, including Erika Lee    Sengstack as the bride-to-be, Harlene Frye, and Patricia Hammond, as the family matriarch, Dorothy Frye.

“Pat has been appearing on our stage for almost twenty years,” says Heather. “And this is Erika’s eighth season with us. They are both terrific actresses that have become like family to us, and we’re lucky to have them!”

Also returning are Adian Chapman as the lovable Dewey Frye, Jr., and Silas Waugh as the steadfast Beecham LeFette. Jan Sheffield will once again appear as Fairy June Cooper.

New members of the cast include Rita Hight as Martha Ann Fox, Bret Hopkins as “Attie” Van Leer, Jimothy Beckholt as Carter Canfield, Lori Shepherd as Ozella Meeks, and Sean Cook as Vester Pickens.

Southern Fried Nuptials is directed by Jennifer Goff, Assistant Professor of Theatre at Centre College in Danville, who also directed last year’s Southern Fried production.

“It has been so much fun to be back at the Playhouse for a second year, and back with the Frye family,” says Jennifer. “The great thing about this play is that it absolutely introduces you to the family, so if you didn’t see last year’s show, or even if you don’t remember it, you won’t have any trouble jumping right into the action. But the folks who do remember last year’s show might just catch an inside joke or two – we’re all part of the family, after all!”

Southern Fried Funeral will run nightly, Tuesdays through Saturdays, from July 5th through July 23rd. 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 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 purchase tickets online.

Accessibility News! Upcoming Playhouse plays to feature ASL interpretation

Pioneer Playhouse is THRILLED to announce that we’ve been working with folks at Central Kentucky Interpreter Referral, Inc, to make sure our shows are accessible to everyone.
Please reserve seats by calling 859-236-2747 or emailing Julie at pioneerplayhouse@att.net.
Dates for ASL-INTERPRETED, family-friendly plays are listed below.
All shows begin at 8:30 pm.
  • 6/29/22 DRACULA BITES: Interpreters, Bryan Grubb and Derek Drury
  • 7/20/22 SOUTHERN FRIED NUPTIALS: Interpreters, Bryan Grubb and Kayla Mullins
  • 8/3/22 COCKEYED: Interpreters, Bryan Grubb and Emily Riley

Hilarious Comedy Opens Season at Pioneer Playhouse!   

Pioneer Playhouse of Danville will open for its 73rd season under the stars on June 10 with Dracula Bitesa zany take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula that’s fun for the whole family.

Clue was such a huge hit for us last year, we wanted to find something that had that same kind of appeal,” says artistic director Robby Henson, son of founder Eben C. Henson. “We actually did Dracula Bites ten years ago and audiences loved it. So, we decided to bring it back.”

Dracula Bites, opening June 10 and running through July 2, was written by Duke Ernsberger, co-author of such past hits at Pioneer Playhouse as Don’t Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell, Elvis has Left the Buildingand A Visit from Scarface.

“We’ve always had great success with an Ernsberger play,” says Heather Henson, managing director of Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre, and sister to Robby. “Dracula Bites is about a small-town community theatre trying to put on a very serious version of the iconic story of Dracula and failing miserably – and hilariously.”

“The actors are having a lot of fun with this show,” Robby says. “It’s a really talented group.”

“Our regular patrons will recognize some familiar faces from past seasons, but there are also some newbies,” Heather adds. “The actors keep cracking each other up in rehearsals. And I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s a zip line involved. I think you’ll just have to see it to believe it.”

Dracula Bites will run for three weeks, followed by the comedies Southern Fried Nuptials and Cockeyed.

 “We like the three-play format, and we’ve added a couple of music weekends,” says Robby Henson. “We’ll have Elvis back in the building for two nights in August, and then local favorite, Powerplay, and a Latin band from Lexington called No Rulez Banda.”

“There’s something for everyone this year,” adds Heather.

A homecooked BBQ dinner is available before the shows, which run nightly, Tuesdays through Saturdays, June 10 through August 6. A bar serving wine and beer is open to those 21 years and older.

Pioneer Playhouse is located at 840 Stanford Road in Danville. Dinner and Show is $36 per person, while the show only is $20. Tickets can be purchased online at www.pioneerplayhouse.com or by calling the box office at 859-236-2747. Plays are performed outdoors; rainchecks will be given for cancelation due to severe weather.

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.)