When Victory Theatre opened in 1921 as part of the Main Street Hotel Sonntag complex, the denizens of Evansville were fed a daily diet of high-class vaudeville: a silent movie, comedy skit, organ music, and then a 10-piece orchestra. In 1928, that dependable formula changed when ?talking? pictures arrived, and the venue remained a Loews movie theater until 1971. Having survived a late ?70s stint as a teen-oriented nightclub and a site for Partridge Family reunions, the Victory emerged triumphant after an extensive 1999 renovation. Now with room for 1,900 audience members, the entertainment mecca hosts top-tier musical and comedic touring acts and plays home to the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra.
For 40 years, Spectrum Sound has livened weddings, proms, and company parties with a wealth of music, photo-booth, and AV services. Technical experts set up projectors and huge flat screens for slideshows and presentations, or specialized lighting for dance floors and stages. DJs crank out catchy tunes and hits across a variety of genres.
In 1954, Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio, Bill Haley & His Comets recorded "Rock Around the Clock," and Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In Movie Theatre screened its first film. Over the next decades, it survived the skyrocketing popularity of cable television and even a tornado, but eventually closed in the 1980s. The projectors weren't powered down for long?in 1989, Mike Harroun saw an opportunity to create a place that combined the nostalgic vibe of a 1950s drive-in with the technology of a modern cinema.
These days, sunset is the cue for ultra high-definition digital projectors to whir to life and FM stereo transmitters to broadcast digital 5.1 surround sound into visitors' vehicles. The two screens change their feature films throughout the season, ensuring that crowds can catch first-run summer blockbusters before the explosions become covered with brown spots. Guests may bring their own food for a small fee, or order from a menu featuring piping-hot popcorn, giant dill pickles, and third-pound Black Angus burgers straight from the grill. That combination of old-fashioned entertainment and new-fangled equipment has won the theater plenty of press, including a spot on USA Today's list of the country's 10 best drive-ins.
A popular local gut-bustery for the past 17 years, Comedy, Etc. II keeps its calendar stuffed with a slew of elite court jesters—many of whom have been featured on the Tonight Show, HBO, Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, the Bob & Tom Show, and more. Watch local comics test out their soul tickles on Wednesday open mic night ($5 ticket value). Otherwise, chuckle at a better-known act such as John Rathbone ($10–$12.50 ticket value)—who's been seen on Comedy Central, heard on the Bob & Tom Show, and touched by thousands of random passing strangers—or the fast-paced one-lining of Dan Chopan ($10–$12.50 ticket value), who's appeared on MTV, PBS, and more.
Becky Kern began teaching dance classes in her basement in 1961. She had just five students who paid a mere $5 a month, but before long the tapping of toes had her neighbors complaining so she opened Becky Kern's Dance Studio. Today, Becky's daughter-in-law and granddaughter keep the studio running smoothly whether teaching 3 year olds how to move creatively with their bodies or coaching teens on the competitive dance team. Six days a week, groups gather to practice tumbling, jazz, and contemporary dance moves in front of the studio's full-length mirrors, where students can follow along with instructors. BYOB ballroom-dancing classes are also available for adults, who can pop corks and learn swirling steps during fun, engaging classes.