The historic Washington County Playhouse opened its doors in 1985. It has been operating continuously since that date in its current location. Nestled behind Hagerstown’s City Hall on Cramer Alley, The Playhouse produces live stage productions paired with delicious meals.
Washington County Playhouse has always been a small business that is family and privately owned. Current owners Laura and Shawn Martin are the fifth family to own and operate the thirty six year old theater. The Martins were preceded by Loretta and Jeff Czerbinski, Kelly Jenkins Moreland and Dixie Odermatt, Don Wiswell, and Bruce Levin.
The Martins purchased The Playhouse in 2015. During their tenure, it has experienced a renaissance in Hagerstown’s Arts and Entertainment District and City Center.
Prior to the 2020 Covid-19 shutdown, the theater boasted its largest audiences and biggest staff in Playhouse history. While Covid-19 made it impossible to retain the theater’s internal staff, The Martins have taken time during the shutdown to reimagine The Playhouse’s staffing model. The Playhouse will now operate as a non-union professional dinner theater where all performers are paid. The tradition of performers having the opportunity to “act” as your table’s server will continue! It’s a dinner theater tradition and will be a part of The Playhouse’s ongoing evolution.
The Playhouse’s sole mission is to entertain.
For 36 years, The Playhouse has been a community gathering place where people of good will can be entertained (or entertain others) and make memories! Laura and Shawn are committed to preserving this historic venue, ensuring that The Playhouse exists for future generations to enjoy, while continuing to enhance the quality of life in Hagerstown, Washington County and beyond.
Laura J. Martin (Owner, Producer) Bio coming soon…
Shawn R. Martin (Owner, Producer) was born in Hagerstown, Md at Washington County Hospital, just a few blocks from The Playhouse.
He was raised in Chambersburg, Pa where he grew to love entertainment and business during his education in The Chambersburg Area School District. Shawn graduated from Chambersburg Area Senior High School where he was a member of the nationally recognized CASHS Glee Club, Choristers and, the male singing group, The Esquires. All under the direction of Feree LeFevre.
Shawn is also a graduate of The Cumberland Valley School of Music, where he was the first recipient of The Molly Darr Messner Merit Scholarship, and studied vocal performance with the late Margaret “Peggy” Weeks (Peabody Conservatory) and Corey E. Rotz of The Washington Opera.
An accomplished vocalist, Shawn has performed throughout the United States and Europe, in places such as The Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg, Pa., The National Cathedral in Washington D.C., and even the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.
Shawn has performed professionally at venues such as Totem Pole Playhouse (America’s Oldest Summer Stock Theater) and The Washington County Playhouse where he has starred in, directed, and produced countless plays, musicals, concerts and revues over the past 25 years.
From 2000 to 2015, Shawn worked as a National Recruiter, Manager, Training Manager, and Sales Representative for True Blue Inc., a publicly traded company, where he helped thousands of individuals find jobs. As he and True Blue were committed to creating a diverse workforce, a large percentage of the job seekers Shawn helped were women, people of color and other previously marginalized groups.
A man of faith, Shawn was baptized on May 18, 1980 at Calvary United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, Pa and was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church on April 7, 2012.
In addition to his duties as an owner and producer, Shawn oversees the food and beverage service at The Playhouse to include the full bar. He cooks for guests in the playhouse kitchen prior to each and every performance.
In his limited time away from The Playhouse, Shawn enjoys going to the shooting range, attending films, spending time with his pets, and cheering and booing the faces and heels of World Wrestling Entertainment.
In 2015 Shawn and his wife Laura became the owners and producers of The Washington County Playhouse. They reside in Hagerstown, Md.
Shannen Banzhoff (Social Media Director & Administrative Assistant) is a graduate of Shepherd University, with a Bachelors Degree in Vocal Performance – Musical Theatre, and a Bachelors Degree in Music Education.
Shannen has served as Social Media Manager/Director since the fall of 2016 and has been assisting with Administrative work at The Playhouse for even longer!
Outside of The Playhouse, Shannen taught in the Theatre Department at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts for many years. She frequently also performs at and choreographs for multiple theatres in the MD and WV areas.
Shannen is an Award-winning choreographer and performer with a wide knowledge of Musical Theatre repertoire.
Shannen is also a self-taught Graphic Designer whose organization & attention to detail prove instrumental in her many behind-the-scenes roles at The Playhouse.shannenbanzhoff.weebly.com