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Stuart McDowell Kenley Players and Theatre Collection (MS-710)

Identifier: MS-710

Content Description

The collection consists of programs from various theatrical productions, including plays and musicals.

Series I: Kenley Players Programs, contains programs for Kenley Players productions, mostly ones performed at Dayton's Memorial Hall. Many of these issues contain newspaper clippings and ticket stubs affixed to the inside, and some also have handwritten commentary or autographs. This appears to be a fairly complete run of Kenley Players programs from their years performing in Dayton 1966 to 1983. A few programs from Kenley productions in Columbus, prior to the years Kenley performed in Dayton, are also included. The series contains mostly the large, full-color production programs, but some of the smaller black-and-white programs (with local advertisements) are also included. A handwritten inventory was included for this series at the time of donation, including production title, date, and stars.

Series II: General Programs, contains programs for other productions, some of which appear to have come from Broadway shows and some of which were non-Kenley productions at other Dayton theatres, such as the Victoria or McCook. Some of these productions involved people with Miami Valley connections, such as Lowell Thomas (born in Darke County) and Morton DaCosta (who was involved with the Dayton Civic Theatre early in his career). A few programs from Antioch College, La Comedia Dinner Theatre, and Dayton Theatre Guild are also included at the end. A handwritten inventory was included for this series at the time of donation, including production with titles, dates, stars, locations, and ticket price.


  • Creation: 1951 - 1983
  • Creation: 2020


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

The Kenley Players was a summer stock theatre company founded and operated by producer John Kenley (1906-2009). From 1940 to 1995, the Kenley Players cast famous actors and actresses in well-known plays and musicals, then brought the productions to cities throughout the Midwest, at affordable prices. Dayton’s Memorial Hall hosted several of these productions between 1957 and 1995.

Stars from productions included in this collection include: Paul Lynde, Terence Monk, Gene Kelly, Barbara Eden, Sally Field, Ann Miller, Desi Arnaz Jr., Lucie Arnaz, Cloris Leachman, Barry Williams, Joe Namath, Rosemary Clooney, Betty White, Morgan Fairchild, Sonny Bono, Mickey Rooney, and many others.

W. Stuart McDowell, Professor Emeritus, is an award winning playwright, director and scholar. He served as Chair of the Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures at Wright State University from 1994-2016, after working in professional theatre in New York and California for two decades, as actor, composer, director, translator, and artistic director. McDowell was the Frederick A. White Distinguished Professor of Professional Service at Wright State University for 2018 - 2021.


2.1 linear feet (5 document cases)

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into 2 series: Kenley Players Programs and General Programs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Stuart McDowell Kenley Players and Theatre Collection (MS-710) was donated to Wright State University Libraries' Special Collections and Archives by Stuart McDowell, a professor in the Wright State University Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures, in 2020.

Related Materials

MS-651: Kenley Players Programs

Processing Information

The collection was received already divided into these two distinct series, with handwritten inventories provided for both. Therefore, even though some of the productions known to be from Dayton are in Series II, the arrangement was not changed (other than removing the programs from 3-ring binders into archival folders).

All issues were reviewed for the presence of clippings or tickets affixed to the pages, and anywhere that this was found, a piece of interleaving paper was inserted, to prevent further damage to the adjoining (facing) page due to acid transfer from the newsprint.

Guide to the Stuart McDowell Kenley Players and Theatre Collection (MS-710)
Lisa Rickey
2023 November 21
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA