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How Playhouse Square Is Still Thrilling Audiences After 100 Years

Playhouse Square street scene at night with the chandalier the focal point.

The second-largest theater district has a bright future in Cleveland

The atmosphere of Playhouse Square pulsates with anticipation as the marquee bulbs burst into a synchronized light show, casting their glow onto eager theater enthusiasts at the box office. 

As I step into the grand foyer, I’m instantly in awe of the architectural splendor. It’s a testament to an era – the Roaring Twenties – when vaudeville and film were booming and grandeur took center stage.

While this isn’t Broadway, it’s a close contender. This renowned collection of performance venues stands proudly as the second-largest theater district in the U.S., only surpassed by New York.

The story of Playhouse Square

For first-timers, attending a live theatre production is not just a show; it’s an immersive journey of tales and artistic expression. It is a symphony of culture, entertainment, and emotion, forming unforgettable moments that linger in one’s memory for years. 

Between 1921 and 1922, Playhouse Square welcomed theatergoers through the doors of five magnificent theatres. But with the rise of television and suburban cinemas, the heart of downtown faced bleak times. By the 1960s, there were whispers of razing these historic buildings.

However, the dedication of civic champions prevented this tragedy. The Playhouse Square Foundation emerged, passionately committed to rejuvenating these majestic auditoriums. However, it started with five, and today, 11 stages grace this theatrical hub.

After extensive restoration, the doors now open to Broadway plays, concerts, ballets, and community events.

The gem of Cleveland’s performing arts lights up the night

Live performances take the audience on an emotional journey, making them laugh, cry, and feel many emotions.  The power of the storytelling and the characters’ raw emotions cling deeply to the experience and leave a sensation that carries with the audience long after the last curtain call.

The theater is dimly lit, and the stage and a soft glow bathes the scene. As I settle into my seat, there’s a calm excitement as everyone awaits the performance to begin. The curtain rises, and the magic of live theater unfolds before my eyes. The performances are captivating, and immediately, I am drawn into the scenes.

—Author’s experience at Phantom of the Opera at Playhouse Square

In celebration of the past 100 years and a nod to the future, Playhouse installed show-stopping marquees at each of its five signature theaters. 

Outside gold marquee of the Connor Palace Theatre in Playhouse square.

Celebrating 100 years of Playhouse Square, the new electrifying signs pay homage to the rich history while illuminating the promising future of this treasured landmark. 

The resounding triumph of live theatre performances

Cleveland’s narrative is one of resilience and resurgence, mirrored in its theaters. Today, over a million visitors flock to Playhouse Square annually. Its thriving status is a salute to the community spirit and the timeless appeal of live theatre.

For a list of upcoming shows and events, drop by Playhouse Square. It is a treasure to all who appreciate the thrill of live theatre. 

If you want more exciting things to do in Cleveland, the Aquarium offers something for everyone. Read along as our writer, Candy Collins visits with her grandkids in Exploring Underwater Wonders: A Memorable Day At The Greater Cleveland Aquarium.

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