Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Playhouse Square Association: The Early Years

When I think back upon my years at Playhouse Square, it's always the early years. My first day was Saturday, March 25, 1972. There weren't many of us back then, Ray Shepardson, Ceil Hartman, Smitty - Ralph Smith, Vera Lynn Bosko, Bert LeGrande, Victor Villimas, Bugs - Solomon Alexander, a girl named Cinnamon and me.  Cinnamon was gone days after I got there, Bugs didn't last much longer and Victor was around for a few more months.
One of the earliest Playhouse Square clippings, from the Plain Dealer, August 21, 1970.
The first Playhouse Square Association show, November 21, 1971.
The National Dance Troupe of Sierra Leone, December 27, 1971 - January 2, 1972.
12 days in February 1972, Box Office gave it an 80, not exactly boffo.
From a Plain Dealer article, March 19, 1972. When I started working at the Allen the streetlights were out from 13th to 18th Streets. On the nights the Allen marquee was lit, it was like a beacon of hope.

While the Prague Symphony didn't happen, Harris was a hit! March, 1972. 
A week of this. Victor Villimas and I went into every store on Euclid Avenue asking to put up posters. He was dressed like Yogi Bear, I was just a kid handing out flyers.
The Allen's 51st Anniversary, 3 days late that year. Miss Sally was great. The Plain Dealer, April 5, 1972.
The Save the Allen benefit, Sunday April 16, 1972.
Another big show, May 7, 1972. This was a big weekend for us.
May 25, 1972, a bombshell announcement!
Smitty and I spent a lot of time doing roof work around the time of the big announcement. For a while it was what kept us going that summer.
Junior League to the rescue, Plain Dealer, June 3, 1972.
April 1973, a hit in the State.
June 1, 1973, Brel and Playhouse Square was on a roll.
Ray at the opening of Brel, State Theatre lobby, April 18, 1973. Frank Reed photo, Cleveland Press, from the Cleveland Memory Project.

I had always heard that the night before the Budapest concert in the Allen, Ray recited Poe's The Raven, leaping from the stage, then from seat to seat. I never witnessed an encore performance. 
"Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before..." E.A.Poe.

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