There aren't a lot of theater stages that can claim to have hosted presidential speeches—and fewer yet for which that president was William Howard Taft. Opened in 1883, the Grand Opera House has seen performances by the likes of Mark Twain, Harry Houdini, and John Philip Sousa, among other culture-makers of distant generations. Across a century and a quarter, the magnificent auditorium has played the parts of a vaudeville venue and a movie theater, and it wasn't until the mid-'80s that the stage resumed its duties as an opera house. After a sweeping referendum, the city acquired and restored the building, and in 1986 it reopened with a new staging of The Bohemian Girl—the same work that had first lifted its curtains more than a 100 years earlier. Today, 660 can enjoy the opera house's historic magnificence: an enormous, staggered chandelier, cherubic murals across the ceiling and flanking the balcony, and an unmatched ambiance of crimson and gold grandeur.
If anybody knows the difference between a good bowling alley and a great bowling alley, it's Gary Daroszewski. The champion bowler and USBC Hall of Fame member has made a hobby out of renovating classic bowling alleys, and now brings his expertise to oversee the revival of the 36,000-square-foot Fox Valley Lanes. Brand new automatic scoring systems and shiny new lanes are just a few of the upgrades bowlers can expect of their beloved neighborhood hangout, along with automated bumpers, new seating, and upgrades to the lasers, fog machines, and DJ equipment used during the alley's cosmic bowling nights and monthly all-staff revival of Cats. A new restaurant and bar will provide fuel for players between frames, and a second banquet room will accommodate even more groups for birthdays and other celebrations.
Films still gasping for air from their first runs stop by to grace the screens of Fox Cinema Cafe, a second-run theater with weekend matinees and evening shows. Like a deep-fried VHS of Citizen Kane, the theater combines the best aspects of food and film with servers who deliver handmade pizzas, popcorn, snacks, and sandwiches to patrons’ tables as they watch their movie. Private rooms host birthday parties and corporate gatherings where guests can spread out to play games, unwrap presents, and reenact climactic speed-reading battles from their favorite films.
Girls Night: The Musical will bring to the stage of the 14th Street Theatre a heartfelt, comedic story of five friends celebrating their history and future together while embarking on an epic night of karaoke. Actresses belt out renditions of such female classics as "It's Raining Men," "I Will Survive," and “Lady Marmalade” amid vibrant set pieces. Theater seating harkens back to intimate cabarets of yore, with up to four seats and a Dean Martin wax figure adorning each table. Groupon holders receive the best non-VIP seats possible (any table other than tables A-G) upon the redemption of their vouchers at the theater's will-call station.
Originally opened in 1927, the Genesee Theatre slowly deteriorated over the course of the century until its closing in 1989. But starting in 2001, a $23 million cash infusion from the city allowed 120 volunteers to restore the theater to its Gilded Age splendor. Its elegant trappings include authentic wall fabrics, an exact replica of the original marquee, and a 2,200-pound chandelier that gently spotlights the grand lobby and every audience member passing underneath to show how everyone is a star if you really think about it.
Class-A affiliates of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers emerge from the dewy, manicured grass every spring to compete for a Midwest League championship. Playing at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium, these swinging soldiers look to build off last year's performance, which was highlighted by pitcher Jake Odorizzi's no-hitter and the presence of five No. 1 Brewers draft picks on the roster.