For over fifteen years, Pioneer Playhouse has been closing out its summer season with a special comedy weekend, and this year Lee Cruse is back to headline a night full of laughs.
“It all started with my sister Holly Henson,” Heather Henson says, managing director and daughter of Pioneer Playhouse founder, Eben C. Henson.
“Holly was a stand-up comic who toured the country when she wasn’t artistic director here at the theatre we grew up helping our father run. One year she took to the Playhouse stage at the end of the season so that the local audiences could catch her stand-up act, and the rest is history.”
Since that time, the Special Stand-Up Comedy Weekend at Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre has featured name acts like Jimmy “JJ” Walker, Etta May, and Scott Hansen. Lee Cruse has performed twice on the historic stage, and he’s thrilled to be back.
“There’s nowhere quite like Pioneer Playhouse,” says Cruse. “So much history here. So many big stars like John Travolta and Lee Majors have stood right where I’m going to be standing.”
Lee Cruse is a big star in his own right, being half the dynamic duo of the nationally syndicated TV hit The Lee and Hayley Show, seen locally on ABC 36.
“I’ve had a chance to go on The Lee and Hayley Show a few times, promoting Pioneer Playhouse, and Lee is just so much fun to work with,” says Henson. “I like to say that you never know what’s going to come out of Lee’s mouth when you go on a show with him, and it’s true. He’s quick; he keeps the quips coming. It’s always a challenge to keep up with him during an interview, and I think that funny, fast repartee is perfect for stand-up. Actually, lots of folks don’t realize that’s where Lee got his start–doing stand-up–and so, it’s like coming home to him. He still performs at Comedy Off-Broadway as well, so he keeps those comedy chops strong.”
The Special Comedy Weekend stars Lee Cruse, but it also is a chance to catch a glimpse of other comics as well. This year, the MC for the show will be Leo “Freak Daddy” Brown, a Lexington radio personality, as well as winners of the KY All-Star Comedy Tour.
“Lee always brings funny acts, comics he knows will appeal to our Playhouse audience,” says Henson. “You might see a rising star from the Kentucky comedy scene, and you’ll be able to say you knew that comic when.”
“What we like about ending with a Stand-up Comedy show,” adds Robby Henson, artistic director of Pioneer Playhouse, and brother to Heather, “is that it honors our late sister, Holly, who died of cancer ten years ago and it’s also a chance to enjoy the Playhouse experience one more time before our season comes to a close. It’s always bittersweet, saying goodbye to patrons till next year, but at least we’ll be laughing while we do it. Come on out!”
The Special Stand-up Comedy Weekend starring Lee Cruse is for two nights only: August 18 and August 19. Tickets are still available but limited. A dinner of Beef au Jus French Dip or BBQ Chicken Breast, baked potato, Cole slaw, corn on the cob, and dessert is available before the show. Dinner is served at 7:00 pm and the show begins at a new time: 8:00 pm.
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