After 45 years, Paul Lenzi joins his wife Geraldine Ann Snyder in retirement from a long a career of bringing theatre to young audiences.

(LOUISVILLE, KY) – Commonwealth Theatre Center announces the retirement of groundbreaking theatre maker Paul Lenzi, whose 45-year commitment to creating engaging, challenging plays and musicals for young audiences reached hundreds of thousands of kids across Kentucky and around the country. 

“Many years ago,” said Lenzi, “we realized the power of theatre to reach young people and encourage them to learn, feel, and express themselves. Our aim has always been to reach those children who don’t have access to professional theatre.” 

Lenzi and his wife Geraldine Ann Snyder co-founded Blue Apple Players in 1976 with the goal of providing young people with professional-quality theatre experiences of the highest caliber.
Blue Apple toured original musicals written by Snyder and performed by Lenzi, Snyder, and a company of talented actors across Kentucky and beyond.

“Paul was a true innovator and revolutionized bringing live professional theatre into schools all across the country,” said CTC Artistic Director Charlie Sexton. “He pioneered the concept of presenting engaging and thoughtful content presented in a fun and uplifting package. His productions were the first glimpse of professional theatre for countless thousands of young people.”

Children frequently wrote letters after a visit to their schools. In one letter, a student wrote, “On the way [to the show] my friends Jimmy, Dusty and I were saying we would not like the play. At the end we were the biggest fans.” Another of Lenzi’s favorite letters said, “I like it because it made me laugh. It was just a great play. It was actually the first play I’ve seen.”

Lenzi and Snyder have always highly respected their young audiences and believe that children can handle most issues if addressed honestly and openly. Musicals that addressed child sexual abuse, adolescent suicide, teen pregnancy, and violence broke the mold of what was expected of theatre for youth.

“Geraldine’s ability to address serious social issues that affect young people through her musicals provided the element that set us apart from other organizations dedicated to performing for children and youth,” said Lenzi. 

Highlights include shows in Florida, rural venues across Kentucky (memorably in a cold log gymnasium in Buckhorn, Kentucky, and a special appearance at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 1976. In all, the company developed and performed nearly 40 musicals and plays, including many that continue entertaining and educating young audiences since Blue Apple Players became part of Commonwealth Theatre Center in 2015.

“We are pleased,” said Lenzi and Snyder, “to see our goal carried forward through Commonwealth Theatre Center’s Blue Apple Outreach programs.”

Notable recent productions include The Ugly Duckling (2018), Red Riding Hood (2017), and The Boy Who Cried Wolf (2016) — Blue Apple original shows with lively music that get audiences on their feet and core messages that can easily represent the diversity of student audiences across the region. 

“Paul was a hugely influential force in helping guide the process of merger between Blue Apple Players and Walden Theatre,” says Sexton. “All of us at CTC will always be grateful for his vision and his guidance in helping us achieve our goal and we are proud to carry on and build upon his wonderful achievements.”

For more information about Paul’s retirement and to learn how you can make a legacy gift in honor of Paul, please contact Director of Development and Marketing Allie Summers. Follow us on social media as we document the 45th anniversary of Walden Theatre and the Blue Apple Players this year!