Who doesn’t need an occasional red velvet fix? A chance to dress up? (Or not. This is come-as-you-are Cleveland, after all.) And spend a couple of hours surrounded by crystal chandeliers, gold paint and sleek marble?
Playhouse Square can scratch that itch for opulence. This collection of 10 performance spaces, including five theaters restored to their original 1920s elegance, hosts more than 1,000 events a year.
A million people visit every year for touring Broadway shows, concerts, comedy, opera, dance and children’s programming. Depending on the day, sidewalks fill with fans of everything from Green Day’s “American Idiot,” to a Hungarian dance troupe, to Sesame Street Live.
The rich surroundings don’t require a fat wallet, either. Playhouse Square offers $10 Smart Seats for many shows. And every summer, it hosts a retro movie fest called Cinema at the Square. Five bucks gets you a nostalgic movie on the big screen (20-by-47-feet) with classic cartoons and a live organ recital.
Surrounded by the blinking lights, energy and neighborhood revival, it’s hard to believe that the theaters of Playhouse Square were once abandoned. In fact, a passionate group of activists, volunteers, business people and artists saved the buildings from the wrecking ball in the 1970s.
Today, this passion for the theaters remains. The red-coated ushers at Playhouse Square are volunteers. Some have lit the way with their pocket penlights for decades. Pick their brains. You might just find a friendly, loquacious one eager to share some useful Cleveland advice, beyond “Watch your step.”