Pioneer Playhouse Says Goodbye To One Of Its Own

May 29, 2012

DANVILLE, Ky. - Actors and staff at the Pioneer Playhouse in Danville say they lost a “guiding spirit” over the weekend: the theater’s Executive Artistic Director, Holly Henson.

Henson began acting on stage at her father’s Pioneer Playhouse as a child – and eventually took over the reigns – guiding the theater through a flood that threatened to delay the start of the 2010 season and lean budget times. During Henson’s tenure, the playhouse saw growth in attendance and forged new ties with the larger Danville community. Henson, who suffered from breast cancer, and her father were featured in the 2002 documentary Summerstock, directed by Holly’s brother Robby, who says his sister took over for her dad when he became ill.

"It was very hard. Our father, 'The Colonel' Eben Henson, was certainly a Kentucky personality, but Holly had a big personality herself. So she took over the running of the theater by the force of her personality and she instituted many new changes that were very positive," Henson says. 

Henson passed away in her trailer at the theater, only a few hundred yards from the stage where she started her career. Robby Henson says the family fully intends to keep the theater up and running. The playhouse’s next production, “Dracula Bites!” will go on as scheduled June 8th. Holly Henson was 51.