The Erie Playhouse engages, educates, and entertains patrons and volunteers with theatrical productions ranging from classical to contemporary; we train the next generation of artists and arts advocates; we enrich the Erie Community by providing fun and meaningful educational performing arts programs that serve the entire community regardless of background or socio-economic status. We celebrate the power of the performing arts to impact personal and community growth.
One of the oldest active community theatres in the nation, we are currently in our 103rd season. The Playhouse serves as a hub for cultural life; approximately 40,000 patrons attend over 18 productions, ranging from musicals, dramas, comedies, concerts and special events. Annually, more than 1000 adult volunteers and 600 youth volunteers share their talent on stage, backstage, in the orchestra, by ushering and also serving on the Board of Directors.
The Youtheatre has been in existence since the 1940s and has produced hundreds of theatre productions for and by the youth of Erie and neighboring communities. Renowned for its high quality theatrical productions and its introduction into theatre for thousands of children each year, its season consists of three musicals and a summer play series. We are also the leading provider of training in the theater arts for children. On average, 13,000 patrons attend Youtheatre shows, including 75 school groups who attend matinees.
A true community theatre, the Playhouse believes that theatre is for everyone; therefore, we aim to make our work accessible to as wide an audience as possible. Yearly, we distribute 400+ free tickets to local agencies, including Safenet, House of Healing, Mercy Center for Women, Boys and Girls Club, etc. For nine consecutive years, we have collaborated with Big Brothers/Big Sisters by offering theatrical workshops, a healthy lunch, and free admission to the shows.
Accommodations are made so that those with disabilities are comfortable in our theatre. We have handicap accessible bathrooms and removable chairs to accommodate wheelchairs. We have an outside ramp for performers with limited mobility, as well as a newly installed ADA compliant backstage bathroom.. We offer infrared transmitters and attachment devices for the severely hearing impaired. We also offer special American Sign Language translated performances for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The Youtheatre/Education Director and Educational Outreach Coordinator are artists-in-residence at Sarah Reed Residential Children’s Center and the Barber National Institute. In 2013 we formed a collaborative with several local agencies to present Sensory-friendly performances for families with children on the autism spectrum or with other developmental disabilities.
Accessibility also includes reaching out to the youngest members of our community. In 2015, we launched our newest initiative - PLAYtime. It is an Early Childhood Program designed to mitigate the factors that place children at risk of poor academic outcomes. For children, we incorporate Erie County’s Imagination Library books into arts- related activities designed to build literacy at eleven inner-city and Community School early learning centers. The percentage of children from families with incomes below 250% of the Federal poverty level at these sites ranges from 77% to 99%. PLAYtime consist of two twenty-minute periods, twice a week for eight-week sessions. We offer three sessions per year and will work with the same children over a three-year span. PLAYtime also trains parents on how to raise a reader, and exposes families to the magic of live theatre when we transform favorite Imagination Library stories into musicals on our stage.