Who else has fond memories of Kenley Players summer shows at Dayton’s Memorial Hall?

Memorial Hall hosted all kinds of events during its heyday, but perhaps one of its biggest claims to fame was Kenley Players summer-stock theater.

John Kenley is a theater legend in Dayton. His name was once a synonym for theater in Dayton. He produced annual summer seasons from the late 1950s through the early '80s, routinely selling out Memorial Hall several nights a week. At the peak of his career, Kenley Players productions were also being done in Warren, Akron and Columbus, according to the Dayton Daily News archives.

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John Kenley

John Kenley
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John Kenley

The Kenley Players productions were near and dear to my family. My brother Stephen Hill worked for a decade or so as the technical director of those Kenley Players shows, and my mom, Ivalu Fisher, worked in the Memorial Hall ticket office during the summer selling tickets to those very well-attended shows. And for a couple of summers, my dad, John Fisher, who spent the school year teaching government at Belmont High School, worked as a security guard of sorts, watching over the stars’ dressing-room doors.

>> Memorial Hall: Developer set to bring new life to downtown landmark

We were a Kenley family! I was the youngest sibling, so I attended just a smattering of shows — but EVERY Paul Lynde performance, because, well, he was my favorite. Every year, his shows would bring down the HOUSE.

I easily found a web site (kenleyplayershistory.com) that listed every Kenley production at Memorial Hall from 1966 to 1983, with the added bonus of 1995, and the show's headliner. Take a trip down memory lane with me. Remember any of these? What's your craziest/fondest memory of Memorial Hall and/or Kenley Players?

And by the way, the web site describes Paul Lynde as “the most popular Kenley Player of all time.” So I guess I wasn’t alone!

Enjoy.

>> RELATED: The Day that Dayton dedicated its iconic Memorial Hall

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Interior of Memorial Hall. This prominent – but languishing – historic downtown Dayton building could be better positioned for a comeback after Montgomery County, the owner of Memorial Hall, enters into an agreement Tuesday with a developer. Montgomery County Commissioners are expected to approve a deal with the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority and Woodard Development, a partner in the nearby mixed-use Water Street Development that continues to grow with the recent addition of 100 more apartments beyond the outfield walls at Fifth Third Field.Woodard Development seeks the right-of-first refusal to redevelop Memorial Hall at 125 E. First St. The port authority has agreed to accept the transfer of the property from the county so long as a redevelopment plan – which includes historic preservation of the building – is acceptable to all the parties, according to county documents. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Interior of Memorial Hall.  This prominent – but languishing – historic downtown Dayton building could be better positioned for a comeback after Montgomery County, the owner of Memorial Hall, enters into an agreement Tuesday with a developer. Montgomery County Commissioners are expected to approve a deal with the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority and Woodard Development, a partner in the nearby mixed-use Water Street Development that continues to grow with the recent addition of 100 more apartments beyond the outfield walls at Fifth Third Field.Woodard Development seeks the right-of-first refusal to redevelop Memorial Hall at 125 E. First St. The port authority has agreed to accept the transfer of the property from the county so long as a redevelopment plan – which includes historic preservation of the building – is acceptable to all the parties, according to county documents.   TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Caption
Interior of Memorial Hall. This prominent – but languishing – historic downtown Dayton building could be better positioned for a comeback after Montgomery County, the owner of Memorial Hall, enters into an agreement Tuesday with a developer. Montgomery County Commissioners are expected to approve a deal with the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority and Woodard Development, a partner in the nearby mixed-use Water Street Development that continues to grow with the recent addition of 100 more apartments beyond the outfield walls at Fifth Third Field.Woodard Development seeks the right-of-first refusal to redevelop Memorial Hall at 125 E. First St. The port authority has agreed to accept the transfer of the property from the county so long as a redevelopment plan – which includes historic preservation of the building – is acceptable to all the parties, according to county documents. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

HISTORY OF KENLEY PLAYERS SHOWS IN DAYTON

1966

How to Succeed in Business (Jerry Van Dyke & Billy DeWolfe)

Private Lives (Richard Chamberlin)

Kismet (Gordon MacRae)

Any Wednesday (Connie Stevens)

Bells Are Ringing (Edie Adams)

Who Was That Lady… (John Forsythe)

The Boy Friend (Juliet Prowse)

The Women (Marge Champion, Dagmar & Gloria Swanson)

Oklahoma! (Robert Horton)

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Carroll Baker)

The Sound of Music (Shirley Jones)

South Pacific (Florence Henderson)

1967

Funny Girl (Shari Lewis)

Barefoot in the Park (George Maharis & Jessica Walter)

On a Clear Day… (Shirley Jones)

West Side Story (Anna Marie Alberghetti)

Bye Bye Birdie (Gene Barry & Totie Fields)

Luv (Mickey Rooney, Dom DeLuise & Joan Rivers)

Sweet Charity (Janis Paige)

The Odd Couple (Gig Young & Robert Q. Lewis)

Half a Sixpence (Noel Harrison)

The Philadelphia Story (George Hamilton)

Do I Hear a Waltz? (Anita Bryant)

Finian’s Rainbow (Barbara Eden)

1968

Irma La Douce (Juliet Prowse)

The Fantasticks (John Gavin & Edward Everett Horton)

Take Me Along (Arthur Godfrey & Vivian Blaine)

Generation (Robert Cummings)

Pal Joey (Buddy Greco, Anne Jeffreys & Dagmar)

Goodbye Charlie (Martha Raye)

Can-Can (Joey Heatherton)

The Man Who Came to Dinner (Jack Cassidy, Joan Caulfield & Joan Bennett)

The Student Prince (John Gary)

The Great Sebastians (Van Johnson & Sheila MacRae)

Call Me Madam (Ethel Merman)

Where’s Charley (Noel Harrison)

1969

How Now, Dow Jones (Dean Jones & Jessica Walter)

Cactus Flower (Bob Crane & Abbe Dalton)

Gypsy (Jo Anne Worley)

My Fair Lady (Jane Powell)

You Know I Can’t Hear You… (Arte Johnson & Chester Morris)

Happy Time (Allan Jones & George Chakiris)

The Impossible Years (Paul Lynde)

The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Vikki Carr)

Walking Happy (Noel Harrison)

Show Off (Dick Shawn)

Camelot (John Raitt)

The King and I (Patrice Munsel)

1970

Cabaret (Joel Grey & Anita Gillette)

Marriage-Go-Round (Louis Jourdan & Vivian Blaine)

Show Boat (Ann Blyth & Andy Devine)

Don’t Drink the Water (Paul Lynde)

Plain and Fancy (Peter Marshall & Dody Goodman)

High Button Shoes (Soupy Sales & Jane Russell)

Nobody Loves an Albatross (Gig Young)

Man of La Mancha (Giorgio Tozzi)

My Daughter, Your Son (Vivian Vance & Dody Goodman)

Blossom Time (Sally Ann Howes)

I Do! I Do! (Edie Adams & Jack Cassidy)

Mame (Ann Miller)

1971

Hello, Dolly! (Ann Miller)

The Pleasure of His Company (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.)

George M! (Joel Grey)

Plaza Suite (Paul Lynde)

Most Happy Fella (Howard Keel)

Send Me No Flowers (Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, L. Waggoner)

Fiddler on the Roof (Jan Peerce)

Forty Carats (Zsa Zsa Gabor)

The Great Waltz (Sally Ann Howes)

Anything Goes (Frankie Avalon & Joe Flynn)

Catch Me If You Can (Bill Bixby)

The Sound of Music (Barbara Eden)

1972

Can-Can (Ann Miller)

The Moon Is Blue (Karen Valentine & Don Ameche)

1776 (Joel Grey)

Butterflies Are Free (Eileen Heckart & Keir Dullea)

Oklahoma! (John Davidson)

The Last of the Red Hot Lovers (Dom DeLuise)

Meet Me in St. Louis (Jane Powell)

Milk and Honey (Gordon MacRae)

Come Blow Your Horn (Bill Bixby)

Good News (Alan Sues & New Christy Minstrels)

Everybody Loves Opal (Phyllis Diller)

Music in the Air (Giorgio Tozzi)

1973

Promises, Promises (Rich Little)

Born Yesterday (Karen Valentine)

Guys and Dolls (David Birney & Meredith Baxter)

My Daughter Is Rated X (Paul Lynde)

The Music Man (John Davidson)

The Pajama Game (Juliet Prowse)

How the Other Half Loves (George Maharis)

South Pacific (Ann Blyth)

Arsenic and Old Lace (William Shatner)

Applause (Alexis Smith)

The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue (Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara)

Once Upon a Mattress (Lucie Arnaz, Rudy Vallee & Kay Medford)

1974

No, No, Nanette (Gale Gordon, Vicki Lawrence, V. Mayo)

Finishing Touches (Robert Reed, Barbara Rush)

Kiss Me, Kate (Patrice Munsell & John Raitt)

Mother Is Engaged (Paul Lynde)

Annie Get Your Gun (Florence Henderson)

Sunday in New York (Desi Arnaz Jr.)

Take Me Along (Gene Kelly)

The Tunnel of Love (Martin Milner & Kent McCord)

Gigi (Lesley Ann Warren)

6 Rms Riv Vu (Sally Field & Jerry Orbach)

Oliver! (Vincent Price)

Luv (Dom DeLuise)

1975

Sugar (Mickey Rooney & Ken Berry)

Bus Stop (Karen Valentine & Rose Marie)

On a Clear Day… (Shirley Jones)

Stop, Thief, Stop! (Paul Lynde & Alice Ghostley)

She Loves Me (Jack Jones, Anita Gillette & Noel Harrison)

Under the Yum Yum Tree (McLean Stevenson)

Peter Pan (Sandy Duncan)

The Cooch Dancer (Edie Adams & Victor Buono)

Bittersweet (Roberta Peters)

Private Lives (Dyan Cannon & Keir Dullea)

Mack and Mabel (Karen Morrow & Terence Monk)

The Boy Friend (Rhonda Fleming)

1976

Room Service (Henry Winkler)

Irene (Jane Powell)

Norman, Is That You? (Harvey Korman)

A Funny Thing Happened (Sonny Bono)

Damn Yankees (Vincent Price)

Panama Hattie (Ann Miller)

Shenandoah (Ed Ames)

Accent on Youth (Ricardo Montalban)

Funny Girl (Carol Lawrence)

The Student Prince (Allan Jones & Rip Taylor)

George Washington Slept Here (James Coco & Dody Goodman)

A Little Night Music (Eva Gabor)

1977

The Merry Widow (Barbara Meister)

Never Too Late (Tom Bosley & Nanette Fabray)

Kismet (Hal Linden & Dolores Gray)

Anything Goes (Ann Miller & Bobby Van)

Heaven Can Wait (Peter Strauss)

Sweet Charity (Carol Lawrence)

Wonderful Town (Cloris Leachman)

Li’l Abner (Lucie Arnaz & Dirk Benedict)

Fiddler on the Roof (Ed Ames)

Grease (Roz Kelly & Barry Williams)

Make a Million (McLean Stevenson)

See-Saw (Lucie Arnaz & Terence Monk)

1978

Chicago (Allen Ludden & Sue Ann Langdon)

The Impossible Years (Paul Lynde)

Show Boat (Mickey Rooney)

California Suite (Brenda Vaccaro & James Farentino)

Pippin (Barry Williams & Maxene Andrews)

Paint Your Wagon (Gordon MacRae)

Count Dracula (John Gavin)

The King and I (Roberta Peters)

Man of La Mancha (John Raitt)

Mame (Kitty Carlisle & Don Ameche)

The Magic Show (Kenley Players)

1979

Oklahoma! (Dirk Benedict & Laurie Lea Schaffer)

Same Time Next Year (Katharine Helmond & Robert Mandan)

Ballroom (Audra Lindley)

Don’t Drink the Water (Paul Lynde)

Blossom Time (Kitty Carlisle & Allan Jones)

Walking Happy (Tommy Tune, Liz Allen & Jesse White)

Shenandoah (Ed Ames)

Hello, Dolly! (Betty White)

I Love My Wife (Smothers Brothers)

Picnic (Joe Namath)

Bubbling Brown Sugar (Cab Calloway)

1980

My Fair Lady (Pam Dawber)

Chapter Two (Joyce Dewitt & Tab Hunter)

Grease (Gary Sandy & Barry Williams)

Brigadoon (John Gabriel & Alan Sues)

The Wiz (Kenley Players)

South Pacific (Ed Ames)

The Sound of Music (Carol Lawrence)

Side by Side by Sondheim (Uggams, Alberghetti & Lamour)

Deathtrap (Robert Reed & Imogene Coca)

4 Girls 4 (Clooney, O’Connell, Rose Marie & Whiting)

1981

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Debbie Boone)

Barefoot in the Park (Robert Urich)

Bye Bye Birdie (Bert Convy)

George M! (Ken Berry)

Camelot (Ed Ames)

How to Succeed in Business (Fred Grandy & Don Ameche)

The Music Man (Dick Gautier)

Ain’t Misbehavin’ (5th Dimension)

Cabaret (Billy Crystal)

Greenwich Village Scandals of 1923 (C. Charisse & I. Coca)

1982

Meet Me in St. Louis (Cathy Rigby)

Wally’s Café (Tim Conway)

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Dottie West)

West Side Story (Barry Williams)

They’re Playing Our Song (Susan Anton)

New Four Girls (Rosemary Clooney)

Gigi (Patricia Morison)

The Pirates of Penzance (Karla DeVito)

The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Connie Stevens)

Oliver! (Rip Taylor)

1983

Promises, Promises (John James)

Annie (Martha Raye)

Catch Me If You Can (Wayne Rogers)

No, No, Nanette (Van Johnson & Gloria DeHaven)

Barnum (Gary Sandy)

Goodbye Charlie (Morgan Fairchild)

Pal Joey (Joel Grey & Alexis Smith)

High Button Shoes (Gavin McLeod)

Fiddler on the Roof (William Conrad)

Artists, Models and Madness (Phil Ford & Mimi Hines)

1995

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Loni Anderson)

The Man Who Came to Dinner (Tony Randall & Valerie Perrine)

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Barbara Eden)

South Pacific (Robert Goulet)

The Student Prince (Jerome Hines)

Man of La Mancha (David Canary)

The Mitzi Gaynor Show (Mitzi Gaynor)

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