Transforming, Inspiring, Creating Community
Stage Left Players in historic Lisbon, Ohio, started as a group of cavalier theater goers and lovers who wanted to bring their love of the arts to a small community in Northeast Ohio. It's since transformed into a pillar of the community by offering classes, workshops and live performances year-round.
In 1992, Stage Left Players, a community theater troupe, now based in historic Lisbon, Ohio, began as a small group of theater enthusiast who wanted to tackle lesser-known plays. With no permanent home, the troupe produced small musicals, comedies and dramas in a variety of venues including church basements, community halls and even an old ambulance garage. Despite having little-to-no budget and ever-changing venues, Stage Left acquired a small, but dedicated following of fans who appreciated the troupe's cavalier spirit and quirky approach to the arts.
Stage Left eventually found a permanent home in the unlikeliest of places. In 1997 in Lisbon, Ohio, two Presbyterian churches merged. As a result, the smaller of the two churches, the Trinity Presbyterian Church, established in 1859, was left empty as the congregations gathered at the larger New Lisbon Presbyterian Church. Stage Left approached the church's governing body and was granted permission to produce Roger & Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music" at the unoccupied church in January 1998. The show drew an audience, and most importantly, revenue. for troupe.
Stage Left continued to perform in the historic church building. In 2007, the New Lisbon Presbyterian Church sold the Trinity Presbyterian Church to Stage Left and the building was renamed the Trinity Playhouse to honor the building's history.
Stage Left impacts the lives of thousands of children through a robust children's theater outreach program. In addition to performing several children's plays each season, Stage Left hosts a multi-week children's theater camp every summer. Under the direction of Resident Artistic Director Kandace Cleland and Resident Musical Director Jodine Pilmer, the camp gives children in grades K-8 an opportunity to grow artistically, emotionally and socially through performance. The camp culminates in a full-length performance that showcases the children's singing, acting and dancing talents.
Though the camp's focus is on the performers, the camp also gives older students a chance to grow their skills. Camp counselors are often previous attendees. They play an active role in teaching and directing the students. Counselors are also in charge of designing and constructing the set. During performances, counselors are back stage making sure the shows run smoothly.
To date, several former Stage Left students have continued their careers in the arts. Some have pursued Broadway, while others have taken their talents into classrooms across the United States. The skills they learned at the Trinity Playhouse have had life-long impacts.
Since 1992, Stage Left has performed hundreds of shows, both large well-known musicals and small, intimate dramas. But, the troupe has also given life to shows written by Northeast Ohio playwrights including Kandace Cleland and Michael Dempsey.
The impact Stage Left has had on Lisbon, Ohio, and Northeast Ohio is immeasurable. The Trinity Playhouse is a safe space for performers young and old. The troupe truly embodies what it means to be a community theater.
The Creative Team
Kandace Cleland has 35 years of experience in teaching theater, musical theater and English literature. She graduated from Kent State University in 1998 with a BA in theater and an MAT in education and taught Theatre in the public school setting in Canfield, Ohio. She continues to write one act musicals and original holiday shows for Stage Left Players, and as a newly retired teacher, has fully immersed herself in teaching after school workshops in acting and design.
Visual Arts Coordinator
Jacob provides design insight and support to the Stage Left Players
team. A native of Kensington, Ohio, Jacob has grown up at SLP since he was six years old, and has served on the creative teams for many of our
productions including Stage Left Player's annual youth theatre summer
camp. Jacob received a BA in both Art and Theatre from the University of
Mount Union with a focus in K-12 arts education. After graduating, he spent
a four-month clinical experience teaching Kindergarten through eighth grade art in Chicago, IL and currently teaches Visual Art and Digital Photography at Clearview High School in Lorain, OH.
Resident Music Director
Jodine Pilmer has more than 45 years experience as a teacher and music director. She graduated from Westminster College with a Bachelor's in music and did graduate work at the University of Michigan. Ms. Pilmer writes the music for the Stage Left original series of childrens' musicals. She also serves as church organist and music director for the New Lisbon Presbyterian Church.
Paige first joined the Stage Left family at age nine, and grew up on stage at the Trinity Playhouse. She received a BS in both Psychology and Human Development & Family Studies, as well as a minor in Rehabilitation and Human Services from The Pennsylvania State University. Paige completed her senior capstone experience as the Assistant Director of Youth Programming and worked to bring community theatre to a virtual platform for kids in the Tri-County area during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Each summer, she serves as a mentor and coordinator to the high school volunteers for the summer program. Currently, Paige is pursuing a PhD in School Psychology with a dual licences in Child Clinical Psychology from Duquesne University. Paige’s emphasis is on expanding psychological services to children in rural areas and has a background in working with children with autism.
Christine Martin has over 25 years of experience in teaching dance professionally in studio, theater and school settings. She studied ballet with Inna Stabrova, and holds several dance certifications, including Acrobatic Arts, Hip Hop Experience, Relative Motion Experience, and DancemED (health and injury prevention for dancers). Christine served in youth ministry for several years, before turning her full energies to her dance studio, Leap of Faith Dance. She has experience teaching multiple styles of dance to all ages, including ballet, tap, jazz, acro, baton, lyrical, hip hop, Irish step, and ballroom. She also has extensive experience in inclusive dance, teaching dancers of all abilities, including wheelchair dance and Special Olympics gymnastics. In addition to operating the studio. Christine serves as advisor for the United High School flag line and the choreographer for UHS spring musicals, and is thrilled to be joining Stage Left!
Acting and Improv Coach
Stage Left's Master Teacher, Paul Dahman, began dabbling in the ancient art of improv comedy after watching just one too many episodes of "Whose Line is it Anyway?" He started training seriously at the tender age of 19. He trained with Mainstage Improv in Columbus, before leading and training young padawans of his own for two years.
Paul interned with Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NYC, a comedy school created, in part, by Amy Poehler. He trained more (because you always continue to learn) with Good Ghosts Improv in NYC. They performed exclusively at the COW Theatre in 2015. Moving back to Youngstown in 2016, he got involved in community theatre. In 2017 he joined and began to help teach improv to the members of The Dinner Theatre Rejects, the area's premier comedy group and talented padawans.
Daniel Huston is a professional lighting designer and production manager based out of New York City. He has worked extensively in NYC and throughout the Midwest, designing and managing companies ranging from opera and theatre to dance and retail. Some highlights of his career include: Production Manager for J2 Spotlight Musical Theatre (off-Broadway), Production Manager and Resident Lighting Designer for the Ohio Light Opera, Lighting Designer for Spaeth Designs Inc. where he has designed display windows for most of the major department stores in NYC, and Resident Lighting Designer for Annabella Gonzalez Dance Theatre (NYC). In addition to his work professionally, he has taught at several colleges and universities across the country.
Digital Overlord and Storytelling Coach
Will made his stage debut in fourth grade. Since then he's made audiences laugh at his jokes in Phoenix, Tempe, Arizona, New York and Northeast Ohio. And stand-up comedy is just his hobby.
Will has spent much of his career in media, working with some of the most notable news organizations in the world as a digital strategist, SEO and an audience engagement specialist.
During the COVID lockdown of 2020 he produced, directed and wrote for a comedy news show which was filmed entirely remotely.
Will studied English Literature and Creative Writing at Kent State University, helped coach young poets with the Wick Poetry Center and has guest taught for several multimedia and writing classes at Arizona State University.
President: Kari Beil
Vice President: Aaron Hinchliffe
Treasurer: Leslie Ward
Secretary: Kellie Ryan
Michelle Hall, Kari Beil,
Class of 2021-24
Aaron Hinchliffe, Paige Johnson, Kari Lankford, Jacob Ward, Leslie Ward
Ohio Order of the Eastern Star, Center Township Tourism, New Lisbon Presbyterian Church Deacons, Lisbon Community Foundation, Lisbon Lions Club, West Point Lions Club, Consumer's National Bank, JWB Supply, Lisbon Music Study Club
Kathleen Presley, Geoffrey & Kim Goll, Wendell & Ruth Cole, Gwen Banner, Bruce & Mary Melhorn, Kara Craig, John Bates, Eileen Dray-Bardon, Bob & Arlene Barnett, Deb Wood, Mark & Karen Wilds, Ron & Diane Blaney, David & Ellen Bennett, Richard & Kathy Fawcett, Mark & Sharon Frost, John Marino, Randy & Becki McKnight, Bill & Molly Young, Bob & Linda Sebo, Judy Pike, Hazel White, Marjorie Pahanish & Family, Kelly Hiscox Hampton, Michael Manetti, Hilary Fowler, Julie Little,Will & Alison Flannigan