Nearly a century ago, the Hippodrome opened as a combination movie palace and vaudeville theater, spending more than 70 years hosting big names such as Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. Following a double-decade period of slow business and bad hairstyles, the Hippodrome closed down in 1990. Now, however, after an exhaustive restoration project that reanimated the theater’s chandelier-lit arches, the mural above the proscenium stage, and the grand-theater boxes that hearken back to opera’s heyday, the Hippodrome reopens to the delight of Baltimore’s cultural landscape.
For more than a century, the Berkshire Museum has blended history, science, and art into a cohesive whole, drawing inspiration from both the Smithsonian and the American Museum for Natural Science. The museum is packed with wonders ranging from Wally—the fiberglass stegosaurus who guards the museum’s entry—to the John James Audubon display, an impassioned tribute to the very ornithology that prompted Audubon to pen The Birds of America. Other, more playful displays unveil additional wonders, including Alexander Calder's collection of wooden push and pull toys. And inside the vast, salty aquarium, a teeming collection of clownfish, blind cave tetra, and puffer fish swim merrily side-by-side, thankful that they've yet to be cast as members of some trite, underwater calypso band.
The community-oriented Shakespeare & Co. presents high-quality theatrical meditations on life, politics, and elf employment while upholding the art-loving, humanistic tenets of Elizabethan theater. Based on the popular David Sedaris essay of the same name and adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello, The SantaLand Diaries chronicles one man’s achingly amusing struggle playing Crumpet the Elf at Macy’s during a single holiday season. Presented in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, the show combines wry comedic storytelling with a yuletide setting that charmingly evokes years of bygone Santa visits and threats of coal-lump showers. Peter Davenport, a 2009 IRNE nominee, plays protagonist Crumpet the Elf as he struggles through bouts of hilariously irksome Christmastime retail drudgery. Elves, though docile by nature, are prone to outbursts of adult-related content, so this show is not recommended for children ages 13 and younger.