THEARC Theater was created out of necessity. The first theater in Ward 8 in Washington, DC, it was founded to provide residents living east of the Anacostia River with expanded cultural opportunities and hide-and-seek spots. Constructed by local nonprofit Building Bridges Across the River, the theater aims to improve the lives of children and adults in southeast Washington through educational, health, and social-service programs such as free theater workshops and youth internships in technical theater management. Noting the tower of glass windows that crowns the entrance, the Washington Post called it "a veritable lighthouse of learning—a $27 million, 110,000-square-foot campus set on 16 beautiful green acres."
Unlike the premium-cable version of Curious George, ComedySportz shows eschew racy material, going so far as to place a brown paper bag over the head of any performer who crosses the boundaries of good taste. The game-based comedy format pits two refereed teams of improvisers against each other, drawing from a repertoire of more than 100 improv scenes for their battleground. Over the course of 7 to 12 games, the red- and blue-clad teams may perform in Shakespearean verse or rapidly fast-forward and reverse a scene at the referee's whim. The audience, meanwhile, is tasked with generating suggestions, choosing the winners at evening's end, and gently consoling the losing team with made-up aspirational quotes.
This formula has proved successful since 1984, when the first ComedySportz flung open its curtains. Now, the franchise has expanded to major comedy hubs including Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. The latest addition to the fold, ComedySportz Boston, lassos the same spirit and off-the-cuff hilarity as its predecessors, dazzling onlookers with its teamwork, clean but uproarious humor, and ability to turn an audience suggestion into a fully fleshed out scene.
Known for his appearances on Comedy Central and NBC's Last Comic Standing, Jim McCue draws the audience into a rib-tickling, year-ending performance at convivial Italian restaurant Bucca di Beppo. With an impish grin, McCue picks out and good-naturedly picks on guests in a freewheeling set. The chief joke-slinger and supporting comics wrap up the fun before midnight, granting partiers the option to visit a different bar or return home before their cars revert to pumpkins.
What makes it great: experimental sets from sure-to-be headliners and TV writers, standup Wednesday through Sunday, Tuesday-night magic shows, killer scorpion bowl cocktails from the Chinese restaurant downstairs
Anderson Comedy has its fingers in many comedic pies around Boston, hosting numerous events for local up-and-comers to make their names. The company’s The Gas comedy show takes over Great Scott’s stage every Friday night to exercise audiences’ stomach muscles with standup sets by local comedians and special guests. The comic confederation also hosts The Horse's Mouth show every first Wednesday as well as free open-mic nights on Tuesday, allowing unknowns to test their material in front of a captive audience and to control the venue’s laugh track.
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.