Towngate Actor Spotlight: Justin and Isaac Swoyer

Towngate Stages "Ah, Wilderness!"

The Ohio Valley is full of talented people who give their time to the arts and enrich our lives with their gifts. At Towngate Theatre, we are lucky to have a large number of these talented people share their creative skills with us. People of all ages and backgrounds gather here to create and experience art onstage.

The upcoming Towngate production of Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness! has just such talent. Two of the actors in the show are making it a family matter.

Justin Swoyer and his son, Isaac, play two of the roles in the show. Justin, is a Wheeling native, 1995 graduate of Wheeling Park High School and regular Towngate Theatre actor. He plays the role of Uncle Sid. Isaac plays Tommy.

Justin started acting when he was at West Liberty State College. “My future wife, Lisa, encouraged me to audition so I finally went for it and got cast. I was cast as Richard in Moon Over Buffalo under the direction of John E. Reilly.”

He then started acting at Towngate, with his first role in G Man in 2010.
“It will always be special to me as it was the last play directed by Hal O’Leary,” Justin said.

Since his first role at Towngate seven years ago, Justin has performed is many shows, including the Towngate productions of Of Mice and Men, The Baby Dance, Arsenic & Old Lace, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead and, most recently, George Washington Slept Here.

Acting is something that means a lot to him. “I enjoy creativity through different mediums, whether it be drawing, music or acting,” he said.

“Being on stage and taking on different personalities in the creation of characters has always been enjoyable to me. Seeing it all come together with my fellow actors when we put on a production is great; the hard work we put in for weeks coming to life on stage and the audience appreciating our craft is my true joy in being a part of it all.”

Isaac, an 11-year-old and 5th Grader at Madison Elementary, got into acting a few years ago when he and Justin’s oldest son, Ayden, performed in Towngate’s production of A Christmas Carol. Justin was in the performance as well and remembers it as a great experience.

“I cannot put into words how amazing it felt sharing the stage with my sons during those performances, especially when our characters were able to interact,” Justin said.

Since then, Isaac has performed in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Charlotte’s Web, and Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Clause.

Ah, Wilderness! at Towngate

Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness! runs at Towngate Theatre May 12-14 and 19-20. Directed by Luke Hardt, the play is a staple in American community theater. The comedic coming of age story offers a tender retrospective of small town family values, teenage growing pains and young love.

Justin said acting in this production is a new experience for him. “This is my first time being in a production that can be considered a ‘coming of age’ tale for teenagers,” Justin said.

“I enjoy being in productions of certain eras, this one pertaining to 1906. Learning the language and terminology of the time is always enjoyable as well. So much of it lost in time with how people once spoke. And there are references to older songs and singers or performers mentioned in our dialogue that I’ve never heard of before, so it gives me broader appreciation of how things were so long ago.”

Get Tickets

Evening performances of Ah Wilderness! take place at 8 p.m. May 12, 13, 19 and 20. A matinee performance takes place at 3 p.m. May 14.

Purchase tickets in advance at or call 304-242-7700. You can buy tickets at the door, too. Admission is $12.50/$11 OI members.