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.
With past performers such as Jerry Seinfeld, Dennis Miller, and Dana Carvey, Laughs Unlimited has accumulated a formidable collection of laughs in its 27-year history. Owner and booker Steve Grove keeps the comedy lineup fresh with imported mountain air and a steady rotation of established and up-and-coming comedians. Warm brick walls and exposed-beam ceilings line the recently renovated club. Laughs Unlimited’s full menu furnishes empty bellies with Mexican-inspired tacos, burritos, and snacks, which go down smooth with several Californian wines and an arsenal of signature cocktails.
The comedians at Sacramento Comedy Spot, named one of the best places to take a date by Sacramento News & Review readers in 2008, split sides with weekly lineups of improv, sketch-comedy, and standup routines. The club’s various comedy shows transform snacks into projectile objects as guests wet their whistles with beer, and munch on popcorn and candy. Those wanting to try their hands at the laugh-luring profession can participate in an open mic, or enroll in one of the Spot's improv, standup, or sketch classes.
During the all-ages Friday or Saturday ComedySportz show, expect to watch two teams of ComedySportz improvisers fight for laughs using scenes, games, and songs based on audience suggestions. Intended for ages 17 and up, the Thursday show, Mayhem, features three acts of improvised, unexpected juxtapositions and pre-funnied sketch comedy, holding audiences captive until the full ransom of laughter is paid and a Branson-bound aircraft provided.
Between rounds of a custom four-course meal, the Dinner Detective?s guests set their well-fed brains to sussing out who among them is a murderer. Groups of up to 80 dine on appetizers of vegetable spring rolls and steamed potstickers with hoisin sauce, warming them up for a high-energy, comedic investigation led by skilled improv actors posing as detectives, audience members, and talkative teapots. As guests dine on entrees, such as broiled salmon with lemon-dill sauce or vegetable ravioli with artichoke pesto and fire-roasted tomatoes, additional murders happen and clues are revealed. The best sleuth in the audience receives an award, with a dessert of cheese cake soothing the egos of audience members certain that Colonel Mustard was the culprit.
Surrounded by a sea of tables drenched in red light, the central stage of Sacramento Punch Line presents a lineup of the country’s top touring comedians. For 20 years, the club has been canning the cackles of audiences, featuring sidesplitting stars such as D.L. Hughley, Dave Chappelle, and Chris Rock before they broke onto the national stage. With a first-come, first-served policy, audience members can arrive early at the intimate theater to snag a table close to the stage or the off-stage shepherd's hook. Before the show begins, servers whet laugh whistles by taking drink orders for beer, cocktails, soda, or sparkling water.