2023 !mpact Award Recipient: New Castle Playhouse
In 1958, New Castle Playhouse (NCP) was incorporated as a non-profit organization and for more than sixty (60) years has been enriching the lives of Lawrence County and the region through live theatrical performances. The New Castle Playhouse exists to foster community, pride, civic renewal, and cultural enlightenment through quality theater arts experiences, produced by the community, for the community.
During the early years, The NCP used multiple venues to present its productions. A decision was made in 1987 to purchase the former State Movie Theater building and provide a permanent home for the theater group. Since that time NCP has expanded and improved its programming, production schedule, physical facilities, and has become the symbol of revitalization in an evolving south-side neighborhood. The property includes a beautiful courtyard and is often used for small gatherings and photos.
Phillip J. Clark, Jr. currently serves as Immediate Past President and Second Vice-President of the organization. “I have a passion for this playhouse. I love to see and hear the audience reaction to live theater. Some people have never seen a live production. There’s no better feeling in the world.”
He believes that providing year-round productions to a small community is unique to Lawrence County. “Our audiences are treated to the work of some of the best writers and lyricists who ever lived.” He adds, “Along with the Hoyt and the New Castle Regional Ballet, we are all community assets.”
Phillip also acknowledged the work of those both on and off the stage. “From the musicians in the orchestra, to the board, to the people who build the sets, and our front-of-the-house volunteers who take tickets, we work hard to keep our productions high quality.”
The New Castle Playhouse places an emphasis on children and youth through a variety of programs. The Youth programs now include a full-scale Children’s Theater production, the Rising Stars Summer Workshop, Stars of Tomorrow, and the NCP Mini-Stars, the young, talent ambassadors of NCP who perform throughout the community.
NCP renovated an on-site garage into a smaller more intimate (100 seat) Annex theater. With its cabaret seating, the Annex is a perfect setting for small musicals and plays. Major improvements are continually made to the original theater. In 1999, new seating was installed in the theater and in 2003 an atrium was added to the building, expanding lobby space. Most recently, air-conditioning upgrades and improvements to the west exterior wall have been completed, thanks to the generous support of the Hoyt Foundation.
The nine (9) show season typically includes musicals, comedies and dramas that appeal to a variety of audiences. Previous shows have ranged from classics like South Pacific and The Wizard of Oz, to edgier shows like Assassins and The Rocky Horror Show.
Upcoming plays in 2023 include Disney Newsies – The Broadway Musical, The Crucible, and Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.
Phillip jokes that he was coerced into auditioning for the musical 1776 by benefactor Condi Augustine in 2001. He’s been involved closely with the Playhouse since then and is optimistic about the future. “We’re stronger than ever,” he said proudly.