Not all live comedy is contained to Boston’s Theater District. Just ask the folks at Improv Asylum, located in an underground spot in the North End, where local actors perform different sketch and improvisational comedy shows nightly. The subterranean space on Hanover Street hosts 90-minute shows with up to six different actors in each show, performing skits that touch upon family humor, current events and even some adult topics (suggested minimum age for shows is 17 years due to the content). There are nine different shows held here each week, with a cast that interacts with the audience to ensure the authenticity of each show. Best of all, military and student discounts keep the already-low prices at rock-bottom levels.
Celebrities from Busta Rhymes to Gisele Bündchen have visited Limelight Stage & Studios, a karaoke lounge designed to give every guest—even ones who have not joined Hollywood’s ranks—a chance to shine onstage. Performers can belt out their favorite tunes on a general stage while an emcee waits in the wings; alternatively, groups can retire to private karaoke studios that accommodate up to 30 for a more intimate vibe. The studios’ Mixr technology allows singers to personalize their sets by choosing their own songs, videos, lighting, and foreign accents. As stars show off their vocal cords, a team of waiters delivers platters of cocktails and finger food such as egg rolls and chicken tenders.
A step inside the opulent Boston Opera House, located near Downtown Crossing in the Theater District, reveals a magnificent marble lobby complete with a grand staircase and classic red theater carpeting, plus gold leaf finishes and brilliant crystal chandeliers. This grand dame was lovingly restored in 2004, but has managed to retain (or at least recreate) much of its historic gilded interior and gorgeous silk tapestries. The 2,677-seat theater, which is now the official home of the Boston Ballet and touring Broadway shows, was originally constructed as a movie theater in 1928. Upgraded seating options include comfortable plush red seats for both the orchestra and mezzanine levels, and choice views of the stage throughout. In addition to the Boston Ballet’s annual holiday performance of The Nutcracker, the revolving roster of year-round performances here includes everything from The Lion King to Phantom of the Opera.
Influenced by dance trends from Europe to Latin America, the staff at SuperShag Dance Studios splits its time between three Boston-area spaces filled with dancing poles, yoga mats, and custom sound systems. Founder Chris Johnston—who won several amateur Latin dance championships as a kid in Ireland and was named a World Class adjudicator by the National Dance Council of America—carefully amassed his talented troupe of teachers from dance schools around the world and from Fred Astaire’s botched attempts to clone himself. During private and group lessons, they spice up Latin-, ballroom-, and pole-dance numbers with an urban twist heavily influenced by British Dancesport, and ready students for competitions.
Boston Children’s Theater provides creative programs for children whose parents are interested in introducing them to the performing arts. Designed for youngsters ages four through nineteen, the theater, which is one of the oldest children’s theatrical organizations in the country, offers year round classes in acting, dance and musical theater. Programs last up to eight weeks and classes feature both classic and modern shows where kids can sign up for affordable main stage productions. Classes include a myriad of options, from an after-school theater class or a playwright project to a summer program or a live theatrical performance like Of Mice and Men. All performances are held at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, located on Tremont Street in Boston.
The first night of each New Year in Boston is always rung in with a celebratory bash known as First Night. The City of Boston created the idea in 1976 as a means of generating revenue and since then, spinoffs of the festival have come to life in endless cities throughout the country. The daylong schedule of activities begins on the afternoon of December 31, with art displays and music and dance performances scattered throughout the city. Families love looking at the ice sculpture masterpieces that line the streets on their way to the Boston Common ball field for the early evening fireworks display. All outdoor events are free, but for indoor attractions, entrants must buy a First Night button, which can be purchased in advance at many stores throughout the city.