When we reflect back on a live theater production we’ve seen, it is often a specific moment that we recall – an instant when a playwright’s idea, a director’s vision, an actor’s performance or a designer’s creativity surpasses an audience’s expectations. And then something special happens.

In the art’s argot, that moment is generated by a “scene-stealer” – someone whose work draws an audience’s attention, takes its breath away and captures its imagination.

Northeast Ohio’s thriving professional theater scene – which boasts of the second largest unified performing arts center in the nation in downtown Cleveland’s Playhouse Square as well as an abundance of “outside-the-square” stages across the region – has no shortage of scene-stealers.

Nine have been selected for this Canvas feature. Their disciplines include acting, directing, management, and the designing of seasons and stagecraft, and together, the group represents both rising stars as well as individuals whose gravitational pull have long influenced the orbit of other theater artists. 

By Bob Abelman