Although it’s the oldest continuously running theater in Michigan (and the third oldest in all of the United States), Croswell Opera House has more vibrancy than most venues half its age. Renovated over the last two decades with a new stage floor, an enlarged orchestra pit, and burgundy and gold medallions atop a fresh coat of paint, the historic venue has lost none of its old-fashioned charm as it continues through its second century.
Originally constructed in 1866, the downtown epicenter of Lenawee County arts and culture has played host to a rich timeline of American entertainment. The 1800s featured vaudeville acts, musicians, and orators such as Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, and the early 1900s saw silent movies swallowed by the next wave of cinema: loudies. Although it was nearly demolished in 1967, the opera house persevered with the loving care of its staff and patrons, and today continues to host a wealth of musical acts, Broadway shows, and children’s theater.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
Older than the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, older than the Toledo Opera, and older even than the expression "As old as the Toledo Ballet," the Toledo Ballet has been a landmark on the city's cultural landscape since 1939. For over 75 years, they have been presenting dance performances and training the next generation of classical and contemporary dancers at their on-site school. They'll gladly put on contemporary works such as 2008's Outside the Lines, but they also stick to tradition?in fact, their annual production of The Nutcracker, accompanied by the Toledo Symphony, is the oldest continuously running production of The Nutcracker in the country.