Teddy Roosevelt took a bullet in the chest outside the Milwaukee Theatre in 1912, but he was so enamored with the place that he plugged the hole with his thumb and marched back in to give an 80-minute speech. Built in 1909 over the same space where the Milwaukee Industrial Exposition Building once stood, the cultural center has persevered to become one of Wisconsin’s most colossal and elegant theater destinations. The venue sports two-tiered seating with optimal sightlines from each of its 4,086 patrons' seats.
Established in 1926, The Eagles Club was recognized by the National Register of Historic Places 60 years later. Today, the theater’s six distinct venues, from the vast, opulent Eagles Ballroom to the gritty and intimate Rave Bar, leave room for a half-dozen acts every night, and more on nights when the musicians spontaneously embark on solo careers midshow.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? stars Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood tickle ribs in an evening of improvised comedy. Starting with suggestions form the audience, Mochrie and Sherwood fashion witty sketches that free guffaws from bellies and remind sad clowns what they've given up for their craft. Interactivity spices up the evening, with the comedic pair calling audience members to the stage to assist in chuckle-making scenes. The Hemmens Cultural Center ensconces guests in main-floor seats guaranteed to be within 100 feet of the stage, affording straight sightlines to onstage action and comfortable distance from the occasional gargoyle infestations of the balcony.
There aren't a lot of theater stages that can claim to have hosted presidential speeches—and fewer yet for which that president was William Howard Taft. Opened in 1883, the Grand Opera House has seen performances by the likes of Mark Twain, Harry Houdini, and John Philip Sousa, among other culture-makers of distant generations. Across a century and a quarter, the magnificent auditorium has played the parts of a vaudeville venue and a movie theater, and it wasn't until the mid-'80s that the stage resumed its duties as an opera house. After a sweeping referendum, the city acquired and restored the building, and in 1986 it reopened with a new staging of The Bohemian Girl—the same work that had first lifted its curtains more than a 100 years earlier. Today, 660 can enjoy the opera house's historic magnificence: an enormous, staggered chandelier, cherubic murals across the ceiling and flanking the balcony, and an unmatched ambiance of crimson and gold grandeur.
Entering their 85th season, the Harlem Globetrotters have entertained millions of parents, children, and general basketball admirers with a unique brand of athletic precision and showmanship. For their latest “4 Times the Fun” North American tour, the Globetrotters will add a new 4-point shot spots located 35 feet from the basket, which is 12 feet further than the official three-point line but several thousand miles closer than the prime meridian. See the arch-nemesis Generals try to keep up as the Harlem hardwood sorcerers evade gravity’s oppressive clutches and court clairvoyants distribute unassailable alley-oops. Youngsters can learn about the benefits of teamwork while laughing along with the jovial jocks as they perform classic routines of unconventional passing and sudden transmutations of water into confetti.
District Bar & Grill's menu is full of old familiars done well. For customers hunkered down at the bar, a range of appetizers can hit the spot, like potato skins loaded with crispy bacon, two cheeses, and tangy lime sour cream. More substantial meals can be anchored with a classic cobb salad, a half-pound burger topped with swiss and saut?ed mushrooms, barbecue pulled pork, or golden-brown fried cod.
The restaurant also delivers on the entertainment front. Numerous flat-screen TVs broadcast all manner of professional and college sports for rapt crowds, while a pool table and dart boards help tide them over during halftime. A raised stage hosts DJ sets, local acts, and live music by nationally touring artists like rockers Trapt and up-and-coming country star Eric Paslay. As a supporter of Rockford's Main Street District, a community organization that promotes the downtown area, District Bar & Grill participates in its Two-Block Parties, which take place multiple times a year and hosts bands from around the country.