PRICE, JOHN L Jr. (29 May 1920--20 June 2012) was one of Cleveland's preeminent theatrical showmen in the decades following World War II. A native Clevelander, he was the son of stockbroker John Lemar Price and Emma Moskopp Price, a member of the original Mayor's Committee for CAIN PARK in CLEVELAND HEIGHTS. Price, Jr. was a 1938 graduate of Cleveland Heights High School, where he acted with the Heights Players under Dr. Dina Rees Evans. He continued acting under Evans at Cain Park Theater from 1938 to 1947. Price also advanced his drama studies under BARCLAY LEATHEM at WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY, where his classmates included William Boehm (see SINGING ANGELS) and Martin Fuss (later Ross Hunter).
Taking his degree shortly after Pearl Harbor, Price became a lieutenant senior grade in the U.S. Navy and commanded an LSTLthat landed on Utah Beach in the second wave on D-Day. After the war he did some radio work in New York, made acting appearances at Cain Park and Herman Pirchner's Alpine Village, and married Constance Mather, daughter of a CLEVELAND CLIFFS IRON CO. director.He also made daily television appearances as "Mr. Weather Eye" over station WEWS. Price's ultimate goal was a theater of his own, and he and Boehm studied the rise of summer tent theaters in Pennsylvania and upstate New York.
He built MUSICARNIVAL in WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, opening it June 25, 1954, with Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! He kept it going for the next 22 years, producing his own musicals for the first 12 seasons and importing package shows the last 10. He·welcomed his audiences on stage every night. A dyed-in-the-wool baseball fan, Price would sometimes announce the score of the Indians' night games during intermissions. When he produced Damn Yankees, he substituted the CLEVELAND INDIANS for the Washington Senators f the script and took the role of the Tribe manager for himself. Rusty Charlie, one of the gamblers in Guys and Dolls, was another of his occasional character roles.
OPERA was another of Price's passions, which he indulged with a few opera productions at Musicarnival, some with Beverly Sills as diva. After the closing of Musicariival he served from 1977-1985 as executive director of the NORTHERN OHIO OPERA ASSN., sponsor of the annual Cleveland visits of New York's Metropolitan Opera. Price was also a lifelong lover of Shakespeare--the plays rather than the man. He was a president of the Shakespeare Oxford Society, which maintains that the plays were written by the Earl of Oxford, not the man from Stratford.
Price died at Judson Manor, survived by four children: John, Diana, Philip, and Madeleine.
John Vacha, The Music Went 'Round and Around . The Kent State University Press, 2004