During Danville’s long, lazy summers, Pioneer Playhouse comes to life, spilling light, laughter and love into the velvety Kentucky night with outdoor theatrical performances that have been a standby of the region for 65 years.
Founded in 1950 by Colonel Eben Henson, Pioneer Playhouse is a rare treasure – one of the only outdoor summer stock theatres remaining in the entire country. The summertime performances vary from the tragic to the comic, the endearing to the terrifying, delighting audiences of all ages as they enjoy theatre under the stars.
And the stars aren’t just overhead—they’re also on stage. Actors such as John Travolta, Lee Majors, Bo Hopkins and Jim Varney all got their start under the Pioneer Playhouse lights, while silver screen legends Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift filmed scenes from 1957’s Raintree County on the playhouse’s colorful, expansive grounds.
The playhouse has garnered attention from around the nation for its unique brand of entertainment, listed in National Geographic’s “100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life,” as well as appearing on episodes of the History Channel’s “American Pickers,” Animal Planet’s “Call of the Wildman,” and Turner Classic Movies’ “Hollywood in My Hometown: the Making of Raintree County.”
This summer’s season overflows with a host of unforgettable characters and stories, including “Whodunnit, Darling?,” a mystery-comedy set at a 1930’s dude ranch and “Is He Dead?,” a comic Mark Twain tale of a Parisian painter who decides to increase the value of his art by faking his own death.
Mid-season, the playhouse pays homage to neighboring Centre College with “the Wonder Team,” a play inspired by Centre’s 1921 triumph over then-football giant Harvard in one of the biggest upsets in college football history.
Later in the summer, audiences can be inspired by “Walking Across Egypt,” an uplifting, heartfelt story described as “Southern comfort food for the soul.”
The season closes with two careening comedies: “A Visit From Scarface,” featuring a Hollywood screenwriter seeking to immortalize gangster Al Capone with his script while avoiding that same man’s hitmen; and “Etta May Returns!,” featuring the Queen of Southern Sass and standup comic extraordinaire Etta May.
In addition to offering a host of summer entertainment, the playhouse also serves up delicious local meals before performances and has a spacious campground for those who would like to stay overnight.
Get your tickets and learn more about this unique Kentucky treasure at www.pioneerplayhouse.com.