Older than the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, older than the Toledo Opera, and older even than the expression "As old as the Toledo Ballet," the Toledo Ballet has been a landmark on the city's cultural landscape since 1939. For over 75 years, they have been presenting dance performances and training the next generation of classical and contemporary dancers at their on-site school. They'll gladly put on contemporary works such as 2008's Outside the Lines, but they also stick to tradition?in fact, their annual production of The Nutcracker, accompanied by the Toledo Symphony, is the oldest continuously running production of The Nutcracker in the country.
The Toledo Symphony is entering its 67th season of brilliant brain tickling (via the ear), with expectations to reach nearly 300,000 listeners over the course of 400 diverse performances. The permanent orchestra consists of approximately 80 professional musicians, though extra musicians are regularly enlisted to garnish the sound and retrieve coffee during extremely long rests with bolded fermatas.
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.
Landmarks of standup for decades, Connxtions Comedy Clubs remain mainstays for up-and-coming comics and national stars, with a roster of past performers that includes Sinbad, Drew Carey, Tim Allen, D. L. Hughley, and Rob Schneider. Headlining comedians, many seen on national television, keep the venues teetering Thursday–Saturday nights, whereas Wednesday nights host improv spectacles and open mics where rookies can begin their ascent into stardom or descent into miming. While refueling chuckle tanks, duos and groups can split a savory appetizer, such as cheese bread or chicken wings, or enjoy a potent cocktail at the bar.
Voted Best Local Theatre Group for two consecutive years by the readers of the Toledo City Paper, The Village Players Theatre engages audiences in its 48th season of intimate, immersive stage productions. Drama fans delight during True West, Sam Shepard’s celebrated examination of the duality of man and scruples among scribes. Like dangling a dripping porterhouse over the head of hungry actors, the juicy lead roles of True West have been relished for more than 30 years by famed thespians such as Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Malkovich, and Erik Estrada. Set in a side of California where the Beach Boys fear to tread, the tale pits Austin, a successful screenwriter, against Lee, his thieving ne’er-do-well brother, in a verbose battle of high stakes and grit. Loaded with leathery dialogue, singing subtext, and dismantled deus ex machinas, the Village Players’ production grips viewers like a gunfighter squeezing a fistful of dental epoxy.