The oldest continuously operating theater in the state, Bardavon 1869 Opera House has carried forth a little piece of every era it thrived in. The domed ceiling and proscenium stage recall the 944-seat theater's opening as the Collingwood Opera House nearly 150 years ago. The Mighty Wurlitzer "Golden Voiced" pipe organ stretches back to 1928, to a time when the venue devoted itself to silent films. And despite the fact that it nearly succumbed to the wrecking ball in 1976, the stage has remained steadfast through the decades, becoming the one thing that performers such as Mark Twain, Frank Sinatra, and OK Go all have in common besides an enduring love of frisbee.
The consortium of professional instructors at the many Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
In the 1920s, Thomas Lamb was the man to see if you were planning to build a theater. The designer of everything from the Orpheum in Boston to Madison Square Garden in New York, his designs fanned the flames of vaudeville and inspired so much admiration in silent-film stars that they almost spoke. So when theater impresario Sylvester Z. Poli decided to built his Palace Theater, he turned to the best. Lamb designed the Palace in a Second Renaissance Revival style, mixing Greek, Roman, Arabic, and Federal motifs into the grand lobby and domed auditorium. With such a regal foundation, Poli couldn't keep his wallet closed when decorating, and spent $1 million dressing the Theater for a king. And so well outfitted, the Theater had a good run, operating with force until 1987. Then the lights on the marquee went out, staying dark for the next 18 years. But with such undeniable beauty, it couldn't stay dark forever. A three-year, $30 million restoration and expansion brought the Palace into the 21st century, turning it into a 90,000-square-foot historical landmark. Yet now, as in the 1920s, the Theater's mission remains the same: to serve as an artistic, cultural, educational, and economic catalyst for the community.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which was cofounded by the legendary dancer himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form using their expert eyes. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Energetic instructors at Work It lead cardio, dance, and fitness classes seven days a week, cycling through yoga poses and spinning around poles in workouts that avoid gym monotony. Cadres of exercisers move to blood-pumping Latin–based choreography in cardio-heavy Zumba courses ($18/class), where alternating quick and slow tempos create a temporal distortion field previously accessible only to the funkiest physicists. Introductory pole-dancing courses ($25/class) let practitioners build strength and confidence as they twirl aerobically around metallic dance partners who never slip or insist on solo river-dancing routines.
Music Theatre of Connecticut delights droves of drama fans with musicals and song-free plays featuring world-class actors and entertainers. Produced around the globe since its debut more than 20 years ago, the Pulitzer Prize–nominated Love Letters weaves a half-century of correspondence between childhood friends into one amusing, emotional, and ardently romantic evening. Broadway vet Jodi Stevens and Emmy-nominated actor Scott Bryce declaim the hills and valleys of two separate yet intrinsically-affixed confidants moving through life with their deepest bond sealed in an envelope. The night ends with complimentary wine and cheese accompanied by commingling with the cast and crew.