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Boye played big role in theater’s bright future

The local cultural community was fortunate to have Kayla Boye at the helm of the Youngstown Playhouse, even if it was only for a short stint.

Boye, a Howland native who has been traveling back and forth between the Mahoning Valley and a home in Chicago, most recently served as the organization’s development director before being named local executive director last spring. In that role, Boye was responsible for managing administrative operations at the Playhouse. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Boye was instrumental in helping to sustain the theater during a health crisis that temporarily or even permanently adversely affected so many businesses and cultural centers around the nation. She did that by implementing comprehensive restructuring and by securing several major grants, including a $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant announced just this week.

Indeed, Boye was a big part of the Youngstown Playhouse’s ongoing success.

Sadly, it also was announced this week that she will be leaving us to focus on her acting and dance career.

That’s a big loss, and John Cox, president of the Playhouse board, who recruited her to help here, knows it.

“When everything closed down in 2020 (due to COVID-19), and I asked her to do some work for us, I knew I had a captive audience. I didn’t know how long that window would last, and I was hoping it would be longer,” Cox told our entertainment writer Andy Gray this week.

We did, too.

The latest large grant she helped to sustain puts the Playhouse on a whole different tier because it’s the kind of recognition that seldom is bestowed on a community theater, Cox said, especially in markets our size.

Theatergoers locally — and around the world — may know Boye well for her stage appearances, including her solo show last year, “Call Me Elizabeth” about Elizabeth Taylor, which was streamed worldwide last spring. Boye wrote and starred in the one-woman show focusing on the life of Elizabeth Taylor when she was 29. It took Boye about three years to develop the show, and it streamed virtually when theaters were shut down during the pandemic.

In announcing her departure, Boye called it an “honor” to work with the local board of directors to sustain and grow the Youngstown Playhouse through the pandemic, and said she is “deeply proud of the significant strides we have made to position the organization and our community for a bright future. …”

We agree with Boye’s comment that “a vibrant theatrical landscape is essential to our community’s continued economic and cultural growth.”

We applaud her role in helping the cultural community sustain and grow this theater, and we wish Boye well in what is sure to be a very successful future.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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