Although it’s a moderate-sized city, Youngstown punches above its weight when it comes to fine and performing arts offerings.
The Opera Western Reserve, a fairly recent addition to the Youngstown arts scene, does one perfomance a year but it’s worth the wait! They perform at the beautiful Stambaugh Auditorium. The Auditorium has several holiday shows coming up that would be perfect to take your friends and family to, including the Lettermen Holiday show on November 30, “Carols and Cocoa”on December 3, and more.
Stambaugh Auditorium has hosted performances by many famous musicians and actors in the main concert hall, which can hold more than 2,500 people. The concert hall also features a custom-built E.M. Skinner organ, one of the few remaining in Northern Ohio.
With a large ballroom on the first floor, a recital hall upstairs and a picturesque garden, Stambaugh Auditorium is also available for use by the general public for wedding receptions and other events.
Stambaugh Auditorium also hosts regular performances by the Stambaugh Chorus and Stambaugh Youth Concert Band, and attracts some big-ticket performances. In 1996, I saw Bruce Springsteen perform on the same stage I walked across seven months earlier for my high school commencement. Wynonna and comedian Bryan Regan will make stops there early next year (2015) as well.
One of the first tenants at Stambaugh Auditorium was the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra. In 1969, it found a home of its own a mile away when Edward W. Powers donated $250,000 to renovate the former Warner Theater – built by the Warner brothers themselves. It then became Powers Auditorium, which is now the centerpiece for the DeYor Performing Arts Center.
You can also catch musicals at the DeYor Center and, befitting its origins as a movie theater, vintage films. This season, it’s Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights,” a silent film with its score played by the orchestra. The DeYor Center also features Overture, a restaurant open before and after performances, as well as for lunch during the week.
Not far from Stambaugh Auditorium and the DeYor Center is the Butler Institute of American Art. Opened in 1919, the museum, founded by Joseph Butler, showcases his collection of American art from throughout history as part of its permanent collection and shows exhibitions by well-known or faciniating painters. Through Nov. 30, the gallery is showing an exhibition by Kim Novak, an actress probably best known for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.”
Youngstown also features a prominent theater scene, led by the Youngstown Playhouse, one of the oldest community theaters in the United States. Make sure to get your tickets for “A Playhouse Christmas Carol”, which runs November 28-December 14. There’s also the Victorian Players, who as their name suggests, is devoted to late 19th century drama. They are currenty running “In the Spirit of Christmas” – a perfect show to get you into the holiday mood.