IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Roger Glass & The Kenley Players

One thing I love about the park is being asked questions to which I do not have an immediate answer. One young air force gentleman came through with his parents from Texas, and his college-aged brother living in Kansas City. The local gentleman asked about the incredible beer stein collection in the WinSupply gallery before entering The Atrium where the animatronic Mrs. Deeds and I reside during shifts. As with other Guests who inquire about things with which I am not familiar I assured them that given enough time, I would try my best to have an answer before they returned to The Atrium to leave the park.

I quickly checked out the exhibit but since I was keeping watch for arriving Guests toward The Atrium, it was a quick search yielding little information. I was focused on finding information regarding the steins and failed to notice familiar photos on the wall. The steins belonged to Roger Glass, the owner of Marion’s Piazza, and the gallery was dedicated to him. The photographs on the wall were from the displays at several of the local Marion’s Piazza eateries that I have viewed countless times throughout the past thirty-one years of living in Dayton.

Between 1940 and 1996, a theatrical producer, John Kenley, offered an equity summer stock theatre company that produced hundreds of shows featuring Broadway, film, and television stars throughout the midwest. Kenley is sometimes credited with laying the groundwork for Broadway touring companies. During its heyday, Dayton was one of the key venues and brought in familiar names like Tallulah Bankhead, Cyd Charise, Rosemary Clooney, Olivia de Havilland, Gypsy Rose Lee, Arthur Godfrey, Rudy Vallee, Tommy Tune, Ethel Merman, Burt Reynolds, Barbara Eden, Billy Crystal, Betty White, Mae West, William Shatner, Florence Henderson, Mickey Rooney, Roddy McDowell, Marlene Dietrich, Jayne Mansfield, Rock Hudson, Gloria Swanson, and many, many more. Some performers appeared in more than five productions: Edie Adams, Ed Ames, Vivian Blaine, Mitzi Gaynor, Vincent Price, Genevieve, Robert Goulet, Lois Hunt, Van Johnson, Carol Lawrence, Paul Lynde, Gordon MacRae, Ann Miller, Karen Morrow, John Raitt, Martha Raye, Alexis Smith, Betty White, and Barry Williams.

During summer stock tours, THE PHIL DONAHUE SHOW then broadcast in Dayton, showcased performances giving Kenley Players a national spotlight.

From 1966 through 1995, John Kenley brought his Kenley Players to Dayton and to Marion’s Piazza. Marion’s Piazza. Today, diners can visit walls on either end of each of the local venues that hold many autographed photos of the stars who passed through Dayton.

If you live in Dayton or just passing through, be sure to visit Dayton’s Carillon Historical Park and enjoy the Roger C. Glass exhibit. Then, head on over to one of eight local Marion’s Piazza for a bite to eat and see all the hall of fame photographs of Kenley Players’ stars who performed in Dayton.

About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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