John Kenley, Founder Of The Kenley Players, Turns 103

The founder and producer of the Kenley Players of Ohio, John Kenley, turns 103 years old today.

According to, upon being asked his secret to his longevity, Mr. Kenley said "Keep breathing. Keep breathing. And Don't die."

For years, the Kenley Players billed themselves as "America's most exciting summer theatre." At their peak, when they played nightly to SRO audiences in three Ohio cities, they were probably right.

From 1940 to 1995, in towns and cities across Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Kenley Players company presented over 500 productions, most of which were headlined by stars of stage and screen.

Information provided here is generally organized by location and without a lot of bells and whistles. A season was rarely the same across the Kenley circuit, so, for example, ticket holders in Warren, Ohio, did not necessarily always have access to the same shows that Kenley produced in Columbus. The 1967 season was the only time during the Ohio era in which all three Kenley cities presented the same headliners and shows.

Consider this history of the Kenley Players a work in progress. With nearly 50 seasons of shows to research, there are still some mysteries to solve. For example: Where were the Kenley Players in 1954? Hopefully someone will have the answer!


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