The legacy of women at Playhouse Square, both on stage and off, has made a difference throughout our 100-year history. Serving as board members, executive leaders, benefit committee members, season ticket holders, donors, RedCoat volunteers and employees - it is clear that women continue to make a difference at Playhouse Square and throughout our communities.
The idea for Leading Ladies began seven years ago as women voiced their desire to be even more involved in supporting our mission. The theme that emerged was: Connect, Create and Celebrate. “Leading Ladies was a new organization of women with a completely different focus from most women’s groups. We were going to learn about ‘backstage’ but there would be no fundraising or galas or long speeches. We would be learning, making friends and caring about our fabulous Playhouse Square!” says charter member Joyce Litzler.
Leanne Dewyer, Director of Advancement, recalls the many discussions about how important it was engage women in a new way. “We knew there many women who supported and loved Playhouse Square. In fact, women were a large part of our success story. What better way to advance the mission than to bring them together to connect with each other, create memories and celebrate this historical gem of Cleveland.”
Leading Ladies members gather four times a year to connect with each other and create opportunities to learn and be a part of the magic of Playhouse Square. Most importantly, there are no volunteer obligations to fulfill, which is a draw for many busy women. Cheryl Weaver, member since 2015, describes Leading Ladies as “stress free, no muss or fuss. You can pick and choose what you want to attend. I like that I can just enjoy being a member.”
It is all about connecting with women who share a love of the arts and Playhouse Square. “I love PSQ and I wanted to meet other women who do as well,” says Kim Sewell who joined in 2018. Kim joined for “the interesting programming and the chance to meet new people and see old friends. I also wanted to support Playhouse Square and learn more about behind the scene happenings.”
Leading Ladies events are designed to be unique and memorable. Some events are geared toward educating members on how the organization operates and sharing the success stories of our arts education programs, such as Disney Musicals in Schools or the Dazzle Awards. Other events feature time for women to get to know each other in a social setting and even attend performances together. “My favorite event was the luncheon when Disney’s The Lion King was in town several years ago. We had a meet and greet with two female performers…I was able to bring my daughter and granddaughter
who got pictures with both actresses,” shares charter member Denise Wells, who helped lead the formation of Leading Ladies.
Sherry Carleton, charter member, said “It’s been interesting to learn about and watch the restoration of Playhouse Square…the history is fascinating and the intent with which the organization has worked to maintain the integrity of the each theater is incredible.” Members had the chance to tour the work in progress of the re-created Gund Foundation Lobby of the Mimi Ohio Theatre in 2016, and the capital improvement project in the KeyBank State Theatre as the it was prepped for all new seats in 2020.
“This is a special way to support Playhouse Square and feel special about doing it,” says Leading Ladies member Sally Messinger. “I enjoy the behind-the-scenes programs, but to tell the truth, I love it all!”
It is simple to join and a perfect way to get involved at Playhouse Square. “If you are new in town or recently moved into downtown, what a great way to find a new friend’s group that shares your passion for live theater,” says charter member Margy Judd.
Leading Ladies is open to anyone interested in joining. To view upcoming events and find out more about membership, visit playhousesquare.org/leadingladies or contact Leanne Dewyer at 216-640-8411.