A finalist in the 2003 season of Nashville Star, Grammy-winner Miranda Lambert's lively, heartfelt country rock sets toes a-tapping and eardrums abuzz with catchy Southern tunes. Strumming such well-known country songs as "The House That Built Me," and "Heart Like Mine," Lambert's virtuosic singing and guitar playing lends life to touching ballads and high-energy tunes alike, touching even the most curmudgeonly hearts and compelling weeping willows to wave their tendrils with unabashed excitement. Aural oceans wash over listeners in the Frank Gehry–designed Merriweather Post Pavilion, nestled among 40 acres of forest between Washington and Baltimore. Today's deal lets concertgoers relax with a Bud Light on the lawn, where they can watch the show beneath the open sky or whisper movie endings to clusters of furiously immobile grass stalks.
Theatre Harrisburg has always had community at its heart. Born in the "Little Theatre Movement" of the 1920s, the first place it called home was the basement of the Harrisburg Public Library. It was there that Mrs. Peters, president of the Women's University Club, gathered nine other women to discuss the creation of a volunteer-based company that could produce quality plays. And the women took action. For decades volunteers on and off the stage bounced from venue to venue putting on shows such as The Dover Road, until 1950, when it found its first home at Sixth and Hurlock in uptown. Then, in 1997, the Theatre made a commitment to be the resident company at the new Whitaker Center. Still, whether putting musicals such as The Rocky Horror Show or non-musical dramas, such as a version of Death of a Salesman with all the tap numbers taken out, Theatre Harrisburg relies on the talent of the community.
Carley's Ristorante and Piano Bar quells burning appetites for elegant flavors and family-style eating with an expansive dinner menu of shareables. Anchor incisors into The Meatball, a 12-ounce specialty studded with provolone cheese and three saucy dipping pools ($9.50), or prepare taste buds for scrumptious entrees with a variety of leafy delights, including the tuscan tossed salad with candied walnuts, goat cheese, and dried figs ($8.50+). Grain-grinding molars can chomp on mascarpone lasagna bolognese, built like an earthquake-ready skyscraper with secure layers of mozzarella, ricotta, and provolone cheeses ($13.50+). While soothing tongues with hugs of sophisticated flavors, enjoy live piano performances, including new-artist spotlights, open-mic nights, and group sing-along sessions of classic Beethoven sonatas.
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.
Repeatedly deemed Best Rock Club and once voted Best Drunken Hookup Bar by City Paper readers, Ottobar hosts an ongoing calendar of local and touring bands, DJs, and comedians. With bars on both floors of the two-story venue, guests can sip on mixed drinks and beers while listening to live music or pumping quarters into an award-winning jukebox. The venue also hosts special nights including spelling bees and underground dance parties, wherein guests shake their hips to the sound of shoveling.
Strand Theater Company presents original, evocative plays with an emphasis on providing women opportunities for roles as actors, directors, playwrights, and set designers. Strand's upcoming 2010–11 season kicks off with the critically acclaimed The Glory of Living (October 7–23), which relates Rebecca Gilman's visceral and complex story of a 16-year-old girl married to an ex-convict twice her age. When the holiday season arrives and families start glazing their mistletoe with a mixture of eggnog and ham essence, you can get in the spirit with A Peppermint Patty Christmas (December 2–18), which portrays a character vowing to speak the truth when she heads home for the holidays. A dramatic adaptation of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking (February 3–19) is a compelling one-woman play, written after the loss of Didion's husband and daughter. The season wraps up with the socially minded One Flea Spare (April 21–May 7), Naomi Wallace's sharp play based in seventeenth-century England and called "one of the finest works of dramatic literature" by playwright Tony Kushner.