"Lively characterizations and an irrepressible sense of fun”—that's how Cleveland Scene once summed up the strengths of Ohio Shakespeare Festival. It's a fitting approach to the works of the ever-sly Bard, especially given the fest's convivial outdoor setting. Dusk finds spectators on the edges of their picnic blankets as immortal plots twist and turn before their eyes and sandwiches.
The medieval carvings, European antiques, and Italian alabaster sculptures at the Akron Civic Theatre absorb the ascending harmonies of symphony concerts and heavy rock ‘n’ roll alike. Built in 1929 to resemble a Moorish castle, the venue has maintained much of its historic charm, including the exceedingly rare atmospheric ceiling, in which stars twinkle and clouds float by as mesmerizingly as the last few corn flakes atop a bowl of milk.
Since opening with a Frank Sinatra performance in 1990, the stadium now known as Times Union Center has seen more than 15 million guests pass through its turnstiles. That’s only slightly smaller than the population of the Netherlands and roughly equal to the number of people worldwide who enjoy candy corn. Besides attracting such entertainment titans as the Rolling Stones, U2, Disney’s “On Ice” series, and the Harlem Globetrotters, the multifunction arena is also home to the AHL’s Albany Devils and college basketball’s Siena Saints.
In its 18th season, the Ballet Theatre of Ohio stages full-length classical ballet starring both youth and adult dancers. Pre-show melodies will billow from the Akron Civic Theatre’s "Mighty Wurlitzer" organ, which rises from beneath the stage like an undead piano to serenade settling guests with festive holiday music. Along with the spectacle of the performance, bask in the magnificence of the historic theater itself, whose interior was designed to resemble a Moorish castle interior. European antiques, Italian sculptures, and a ceiling set with drifting clouds and twinkling star lights craft an atmosphere ready to boil over with holiday magic.
Under the direction of Dr. Frank C. Jacobs for more than 20 years, Summit Choral Society fills audience ears with the language of choral music. Scribed by the quail-feathered fingers of a musical genius, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion will serenade souls when sounding out from the formidable vocal cords of the Masterworks Chorale with accompaniment by six soloists, a double orchestra, and petite vocalists from the Children’s Choir Program. Nestle into a grand-tier chair for immediate acoustic digesting or an orchestra spot for direct eye contact with the conductor.