Show based on Youngstown diner from 20 years ago premiering at YSU

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – It’s been 20 years since a small diner anchored one of the busiest intersections on Youngstown’s south side. Now, a new play at YSU is bringing it back.

Mr. Wheeler’s once sat at the corner of Market Street and Indianola Avenue.

“There’s a lot of phrasing that a lot of Youngstown people will understand and catch on,” said Mia Colon, a YSU student who plays Sasha.

“All of Youngstown is in this show. Every single part of Youngstown you could think is in this show,” said YSU student Keith Stepanic.

Theater Department Chair Matthew Mazuroski is directing the play. The main feature onstage is an old menu board.

Mr. Wheeler’s starts with the discovery of a mysterious bag of money, and then more and more money shows up.

“These characters are tempted with what could this money do as far as getting them out of their current economic circumstances?” Mazuroski said.

“I’d say, overall, it’s about how people from a small town can really come together and not be put down by circumstance,” said YSU student Nic Wix.

It’s written by Boardman native and playwright Rob Zellers, who also wrote Harry’s Friendly Service — another play set in Youngstown.

Colon, an Austintown Fitch graduate, is happy to do a play based on her hometown.

“Youngstown raised me,” she said. “This is where I’ve been so it’s nice to do a show that represents us.”

Since Mr. Wheeler’s has never been staged before, the YSU Theater Department has nothing to refer to but a script. A world premiere doesn’t happen often at the university level.

“It’s a rare opportunity. It’s a great opportunity for our students, and our design team and myself to do,” Mazuroski said.

The show at Youngstown State’s Spotlight Theater in Bliss Hall opens next Friday night, February 16. It runs next weekend and the weekend of February 23 to 25. Curtain time on Fridays and Saturdays is 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays, it’s 2 p.m.