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Regional theater groups collaborate for holiday concert Friday

The online event also is a fundraiser, with matching dollars available.
Youngstown Playhouse 2 Natalie Kovacs
Natalie Kovacs, who performed in Disney's "Frozen Jr." in 2019, will sing in Friday's holiday virtual concert. (Every Angle Photography)

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown Playhouse is joining with other area theater groups for a virtual holiday concert to raise funds Friday (Dec. 18).

"Regional Theatres Christmas Celebration: A Virtual Collaboration" will feature local performers singing holiday selections in an online performance while raising funds for each organization.

Friday's virtual special event features a partnership between The Youngstown Playhouse, New Castle Playhouse, Area Community Theatre of Sharpsville, Greenville Area Community Theatre and Red Barn Players, under the leadership of the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. 

Viewers of the concert will have the opportunity to donate to the theater of their choice.

The impact of donations will be maximized by $15,000 in total matching funds that have been pledged by The Winner Foundation, the Anderson Family Foundation and the O’Brien Children Memorial Fund. Funds will be allocated in accordance with individual donations received by each theater. 

The concert will premiere at 7 p.m. Friday and will be available for viewing until midnight  Dec. 31 at   

“We came together to support each other with the common goal of raising money to keep the theaters alive," co-producer Toni Schlemmer of Red Barn Players said in a news release. "All community theaters rely on their productions to pay the bills. We have a mortgage, utilities, insurance — all of which must be paid regardless of whether we are putting on shows." 

Since March 12 when the coronavirus pandemic triggered shutdowns of large gatherings, theaters have been unable to present live performances and are hurting financially without revenue from ticket sales. 

The Youngstown Playhouse is represented by performances from Natalie Kovacs (Disney’s "Frozen Jr."), Brandy Johanntges ("Noises Off," "Mamma Mia!") and Jessica Joerndt ("Dreamgirls"). 

To create, the concert, singers recorded songs individually in front of a green screen at Calvin Presbyterian Church in Zelienople, Pa., adhering to pandemic safety protocols. 

“The Youngstown Playhouse is excited for our first large-scale collaboration with our fellow regional community theaters," Kayla Boye, Youngstown Playhouse development director, said. "As we head into the coldest months of the season, funds raised from this concert will allow us to pay for utilities during the hardest time of the year for our historic building.”