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 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 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 or by calling the box office at 859-236-2747.

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Free t-shirt with Patron Pass purchase!


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,

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.


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

New! Live Music Weekend!

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.” 

Tonight at 8: Laugh Fest on the last night of the Playhouse season

Tonight’s Special Comedy Show, starring Lee Cruse and featuring Joe Deuce, David Williams, with Scott Williams as MC, closes out a short but sweet Pioneer Playhouse season!

There are a few tickets available. Call the box office at (859) 236 -2747.

Please note:
Show at 8
Dinner at 7

Thanks again for your support and hoping we come back in 2021 bigger and better than ever!

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.

Etta May Brings Historic Season to a Comic Close!

Pioneer Playhouse of Danville has been celebrating a stellar 70 years in the Bluegrass this summer with five main stage productions, and will now close its historic season with a special stand-up comedy weekend starring iconic comedienne, Etta May.

“Etta May’s back, and better than ever,” says Heather Henson, daughter of Pioneer Playhouse founder Eben C. Henson and acting managing director of the official Kentucky Landmark. “My sister, the late Holly Henson, was friends with Etta May, and so we always feel like Etta is part of the Playhouse family.”

Originally from Kentucky, Etta May is hugely successful in both her home state and across the country. Hailed as the “Polyester Princess” and the “reigning queen of Southern Sass,” Etta May is the winner of the prestigious American Comedy Awards “Comic of the Year,” and has appeared on Oprah, Showtime, CMT, CBS Morning America, ABC, and NBC. She headlines the nationally popular Southern Fried Chicks Comedy Tour, and she boasts an enormous fan base with the Sirius-XM comedy channels.

“There’s no one like Etta May,” says Heather, “and we’re thrilled to have her at the Playhouse to finish off our 70thanniversary with a bang.”

Opening for Etta May will be Meg Mark, who hails from New York City, and Terron Young, a Lexington, Kentucky native.

“Pioneer Playhouse regulars will know Meg from being one of the two-actor cast of our season-ender Red, White and Tuna,” says Henson. “She played lots of different characters in that show and was just hilarious.”

“Meg started out at the Playhouse twelve years ago,” says Robby Henson, brother to Heather and artistic director of Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre. “She was in our first Kentucky Voices play, A Jarful of Fireflies, which was about the making of MGM classic, Raintree County in Danville. And she came back and made audiences laugh again in Dracula Bitesand Bottoms Up.”

As a stand-up comic, Meg Mark produces and hosts the Jokes at Jacks Comedy Show and is the weekly host of the Northern Lights Open Mic at QED, both in New York City. 

Pioneer Playhouse audiences will remember Terron Young from last year’s Kentucky All-Stars Comedy Tour starring Lee Cruse.

“Terron was one of the finalists last year, and we just really liked his material,” says Robby, “so we asked him back.”

Terron Young was voted Lexington’s Funniest Comic in 2015, and won the 2017 Walmart Associate Talent Search, where he had the opportunity to perform in front of a crowd of 14,000 and share the stage with Kevin Hart.

“I think it’s a really strong comic trio this year,” says Robby.  “We wanted to end our big 70th on a high note, and that’s just what we’re doing.”

The Pioneer Playhouse Special Comedy Weekend starring Etta May is sponsored by AARP of Kentucky. Card-carrying members receive a 50 percent discount by showing their card at the box-office window.

“AARP of Kentucky” is a new sponsor for us this year, and we’re just thrilled to be working with them,” says Heather Henson. “They’re a terrific organization, and I know all the comics will enjoy some good-natured ribbing of the ‘senior’ audience members. It’s going to be a fun show.”

Showtime for the Comedy Nights will be 8:00 pm, which means dinner is served at 7:00 pm for these two nights only (August 23 and 24).

A home-cooked BBQ dinner featuring pulled pork or pulled chicken, parmesan roasted potatoes, coleslaw, cornbread, and fruit cobbler is available.

Final week for “Red, White and Tuna” features dedicated indoor show, Wed. Aug. 14

How cool is this? The performance of Red, White and Tuna this Wednesday, August 14, will be held in the indoor theater regardless of weather.

Red, White and Tuna, a hilarious comedy set in the fictional “third smallest town” in Texas, which is populated by an eccentric cast of characters, all connected through the airwaves of the hometown radio station, OKKK and its DJs, Arles Struvie’s and Thurston Wheelis’ constant comment on local happenings.

“The plays work as a series, but they’re also complete stand-alones,” says Heather Henson, managing director of Pioneer Playhouse, which has been celebrating 70 years in the Bluegrass this summer. “Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the other plays. It doesn’t matter at all. Each play has its own plot, its own big event that the residents of Tuna, Texas are all worked up about.”

Red, White and Tuna was written by a team of playwrights, Ed Howard, Joe Sears, and Jaston Williams, and is the third in a series of four “Tuna” plays which are both an affectionate look and satirical comment on Southern small-town life and attitudes. Pioneer Playhouse has previously presented two of the “Tuna” plays in years past: Greater Tuna and Tuna Does Vegas.

As the title suggests, Red, White and Tuna is set in the week leading up to the big Fourth of July celebration, which happens to coincide with the big Tuna High School reunion. Both events have all the Tuna townsfolk in an increasingly frenzied state of anticipation.

As with all the “Tuna” plays, two actors play the entire ensemble of kooky residents in a rapid-fire series of quick-change scenes and costumes.

“If you’ve been coming to the Playhouse for a while then you know actor, Daniel Hall Kuhn,” says Robby Henson, artistic director of Pioneer Playhouse. “He’s a fan favorite, and audiences always ask when he’s coming back. Well, he’s back with a vengeance in this one.”

“Daniel was one of the two actors the last time we did a ‘Tuna’ play,” says Heather. “He was in Tuna Does Vegas, and audiences loved him. They couldn’t stop laughing at all the different characters – both men and women – he played.”

“And this time we’re doing something a little different,” adds Robby. “We have Daniel back, but we are changing things up a bit, and having an actress play the other traditionally male role.”

Meg Mark, who debuted at Pioneer Playhouse over ten years ago in Pioneer Playhouse’s very first “Kentucky Voices” production, A Jarful of Fireflies by local writer Catherine Bush, returns to the historic stage to play opposite Kuhn in the demanding 20-odd character comedy.

“Meg was here when she was just starting out,” says Heather.  “And she returned about seven years ago, and audiences loved her in Dracula Bites and Picasso at the Lapin Agile. She’s been working in New York City, acting and doing stand-up comedy. She’s funny, with great energy and crazy comedic timing. We’re incredibly lucky to have her return.”

“It’ll be fun to see Daniel Hall Kuhn and Meg Mark working together again,” says Robby. “These are two actors at the very top of their game. You’re not going to want to miss one.”

Red, White and Tuna is directed by Drew Davidson. It opens on August 6 and runs through August 17, nightly, Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:30 pm. A home-cooked BBQ dinner featuring pulled pork or pulled chicken, parmesan roasted potatoes, coleslaw, cornbread, and fruit cobbler is available at 7:30 before the show. Reservations are suggested for the play; required for dinner.