Assorted ramblings and odds and ends from while I was on vacation:
J.E. Ballantyne Jr. resigned as managing director of the Victorian Players community theater in Youngstown right before Christmas.
In a statement released this week, Ballantyne cited "the overall poor conditions for local theater" as the main reason for stepping down. He stated the last really well attended show at the theater was 2012's "The Odd Couple," and he was particularly disheartened by the poor attendance for his play "Specter of Treason - The Oswald Trial," which opened in November to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy.
"It was then I decided that it just isn't worth doing theater in and around Youngstown," Ballantyne stated. "There just isn't enough support to make it worthwhile."
There have been some successes this season - Trumbull New Theatre sold out its run of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" to open its 2013-14 season, Rust Belt Theater Company had the biggest crowd ever for its midnight show of "How the Drag Queen Stole Christmas" and Easy Street Productions' "Miracle on Easy Street" always is a big draw - and Ballantyne's comments could be dismissed as sour grapes.
But there are signs that he's not alone in feeling the squeeze.
With the exception of TNT, which opens "Arsenic and Old Lace" on Jan. 17, the local theater schedule is - to quote Elmer Fudd - vewwwy quiet.
The Oakland Center for the Arts hasn't mounted a production since "Angels in America: Millennium Approaches" closed in October. Youngstown Playhouse, which kicked off 2013 with a great production of "God of Carnage" in its Moyer Room, essentially is taking the first two months of the year off. Nothing is slated there until the drama "Strange Snow" opens Feb. 28 in the Moyer Room.
Even Youngstown State University Theater, which usually has a Black Box Productions' show in January, won't have anything until Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" opens Feb. 28.
The unpredictability of northeast Ohio weather makes planning anything in January and February a risky proposition, but that hasn't stopped local theaters before.
Along with the weather climate, it might be the economic climate that's sending a chill through the local theater community.
"Johnny Sincere" by the Deadbeat Poets finished second in the voting for the "Coolest Song in the World" through a listener poll by the internationally syndicated show and satellite radio channel Little Steven's Underground Garage.
Each of the weekly "Coolest Song in the World" picks for the show (which is heard locally at 10 p.m. Sundays on WNCD-FM) were featured on the year-end poll. The Poets - Frank Secich, Terry Hartman, Pete Drivere and John Koury - topped every act except for Joan Jett and her song "Any Weather" in the voting.
"Johnny Sincere" was the third song by the area band to receive the cool seal of approve from the Underground Garage.
Want to attend a music festival for free? Cincinnati's Bunbury Music Festival is accepting applications for volunteers for its 2014 festival, which is scheduled July 11-13 on the banks of the Ohio River downtown.
Volunteer who work a four-hour shift get free admission to the festival on the days worked and a free T-shirt. This year's lineup hasn't been announced yet, but last year's fest featured fun., Walk the Moon, MGMT, Cake and The National.
Applications and more information can be found at bunburyfestival.com/ participate/volunteersopen.
Andy Gray is the entertainment writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org