Youngstown, OH (May 30, 2021) — At a private celebration this past weekend, The Youngstown Playhouse announced the establishment of the Joseph E. Scarvell Youth Theatre Endowment Fund, created to honor the legacy of the longest-serving member of the Playhouse community and a lifetime dedicated to arts education. The endowment will support activities of The Youngstown Playhouse Youth Theatre and educational programming.

Thanks in part to a generous contribution by an anonymous donor, the endowment will start with an initial investment of $20,000 and will be managed by the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley. Contributions to the fund may be directed to CFMV via check or credit card at For other forms of donation, such as stock transfer or real estate, donors may contact CFMV staff at 330-743-5555 or

Scarvell, who passed away at age 89 on January 5, 2021, was a dedicated educator and mentor to generations of artists. Since his Playhouse stage debut in 1958, he maintained 62 years of active involvement as an actor, director, board member, patron, and audience member, lending his considerable talents to over 400 theatrical productions. Scarvell held the distinction of being present for the final show at the former Playhouse location on Market Street, appearing in Visit to a Small Planet (1958),  as well as its first show at its current location, Open House: A Review (1959). The theatre is where he met his wife, Dr. Joanne K. Scarvell of Hubbard. The two were married for nearly 60 years.

After graduating from Farrell High School in 1949, Scarvell earned a bachelor’s degree in education at Youngstown State University in 1955, followed by a master’s degree in theatre from Kent State University in 1970. Scarvell began his teaching career at his alma mater, Farrell High School, where he taught for 13 years before creating the theatre arts program at New Castle Area School District, where he taught for 20 years while programming culturally relevant pieces that challenged the social consciousness of his students. Scarvell also taught at Kennedy Catholic High School and as an adjunct professor at Youngstown State University, Westminster College, Penn State University Shenango Campus, Slippery Rock University at Cranberry, and Kent State University Trumbull Campus. In 2018, he co-founded the Chrysalis Stage Advanced Performing Arts Conservatory in Sharon, where he directed a 2019 production of West Side Story.

Recent acting credits from Scarvell’s extensive body of work included Mr. Gibbs in Arsenic and Old Lace (2014), Judge Taylor in To Kill a Mockingbird (2011), Henry Drummond in Inherit the Wind (2010), and Titanic—The Musical (2008). Directing credits included The Odd Couple (2016), You Can’t Take It With You (2015), Death of a Salesman (2013), That Championship Season (2011), Glengarry Glen Ross, A Few Good Men, Brighton Beach Memoirs, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Our Town.