Birmingham Children's Theatre aims to mint pint-sized playwrights, actors, and audience members. It has pursued this goal since its inception in 1947, impacting more than 170,000 children and their 170,000 imaginary friends annually. The theater's kid-friendly programming not only introduces kids to the theater, but also initiates them into the production process. Since 1982, its New Voices Project has yielded upward of 50 original scripts, stories, musicals, and adaptations for young audiences, all while celebrating artistic experimentation and supporting promising new playwrights.
As part of the Alabama Symphony's Sounds for Summer series, both shows bring contemporary musical entertainment to the ornately gilded, classy venue. The Act of Congress and Three on a String show tickles tiny earhammers with modern bluegrass and genre-spanning hits. Or hear Country's Hit Makers: Behind the Hits, which packs a 15-song set with recent country billboard toppers such as "Cowboy Casanova" and "American Honey." Both shows are conducted by Christopher Confessore, the ASO's principal pops conductor.
Voted Best Theatre Company in Birmingham magazine’s 2010 Best of B'ham survey and winner of the Birmingham News Best Live Theater in 2009, Red Mountain Theatre Company transports audiences into compelling worlds of theatrical fantasy. Five Guys Named Moe tells the tale of Nomax, down and out in classic blues fashion, abandoned by his girlfriend and the contents of his wallet. Trying to console himself in the bleary hours before dawn, he is surprised when five guys named Moe emerge from his 1930s-esque radio and entertain the misery out of him with songs, cheers, jeers, and a recipe for duct-tape pie. Celebrating the music of Louis Jordan, one of the most successful African American musicians of the 20th century, the Moes croon such hits as “Let the Good Times Roll,” “Caldonia,” and “Messy Bessy.”
In an interview with the Birmingham News, concert promoter Brian Teasley explained the vision behind Bottletree Café: "We wanted to open a place that would serve food we wanted to eat, show films we liked to see, and play music we wanted to hear." It turns out Teasley, along with co-owners Merrilee and Brad Challiss, has pretty good taste: according to Esquire, which ranked the café as one of the country's best bars, "This place is already stealing thunder from every small music venue in the region." FlavorWire backed up this endorsement by ranking Bottletree Café as one of The 10 Greatest New Music Venues of the 21st Century. Since opening in 2006, the venue has hosted Rogue Wave, Band of Horses, and other indie-leaning rock groups.
But the accolades don't stop there. The venue also has attracted praise for its vegetarian-centric menu. Birmingham Weekly rated the café's brunch among the city's best and devoted a full-out love letter to the lunch menu, which was reintroduced in August 2012. The award-winning vegetarian chili ranks among house favorites and makes a repeat appearance in cheese-smothered nachos. Tofu plays a centric role in entrees and desserts, and black-bean patties made a fiber-rich substitute for beef in burgers, or a biodegradable substitute for frisbees in games of disc golf.