Warren Players was organized on November 6, 1930 by a group of seventeen individuals who shared an interest in theater and wanted “to give Warren something in the way of real entertainment and appreciation of real play production and to develop the talent which abounds in the community.”
Players’ first public play, “Her Husband’s Wife”, opened on February 13, 1931 in the Woman’s Club auditorium. Almost eight decades and over three undred public productions later, Warren Players can rightly claim to be one of the longest continuously running amateur theaters in the United States. Governed by a volunteer board of directors, the organization has continued to draw from an extraordinary pool of local talent to mount its annual seasons.
Productions featuring young actors began in 1948 with “Many Moons”, and in the 1970s, when Jack-in-the-Box Players debuted, youth shows became a feature of most seasons. In 1991, the Youth Connection, a popular high school musical performing group, was formed.
Warren Players has always been a place where one could come to entertain, or be entertained. Many Warren natives have participated in Players productions and gone on to establish careers in the performing arts. Currently several individuals who came of age on the Players stage have successful careers as performers and production specialists in Los Angeles and New York.
For over 40 years, Warren Players struggled with the inconveniences of not having a home of its own. Early productions were held in the Woman’s Club auditorium, and in 1963 Players moved to the Beaty Middle School stage. After a successful community fund drive in the early 1970s, Players transformed the vacant St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on Water Street, largely through volunteer efforts, into a unique and intimate theater space. However, as Players approached the end of its third decade on Water Street, property ownership had become prohibitively expensive for the non-profit group, and financial survival had to take precedence. In early 2002, the Players membership voted overwhelmingly to sell Players’ Water Street facility. In an interesting return to its roots, Players worked out a mutually beneficial rental arrangement with the Woman’s Club of Warren and produced its shows there from 2003 through 2005.
In the spring of 2007, Warren Players and the Struthers Library Theatre, with the assistance and encouragement of the Friends of the Library Theatre, signed a cooperative agreement that placed Warren Players in the role of “resident amateur theatre company”. Both organizations retain individual identity and non-profit status, but this historic arrangement allows Warren Players to stage its productions on the magnificent stage of the historic Struthers Library Theatre. By joining together, Struthers and Players have committed to keep the performing arts alive and well in Warren County. This wonderful partnership has been a long time coming and ushers in a positive new era for both entities. Jack-in-the-Box Players youth theatre continues to thrive, and Reader’s Theatre has become a popular form of entertainment, in addition to main stage plays and musicals.
As Warren Players enters its ninth decade of offering classic and contemporary theater for the entertainment of the Warren community, pride in its illustrious past and an enthusiasm for all that lies ahead in the new millennium will carry Players forward to continue its tradition of quality community theater for all ages.