Cleveland boasts the largest theater community between New York and Chicago. In addition, the city is home to the oldest African-American theater in the United States (Karamu) and the critically-acclaimed Cleveland Play House, a theater that draws top actors, directors, and writers from all over the world.
Cleveland Play House
The Cleveland Play House, established in 1915, was America's first professional theater company. It is also the country's oldest regional theater. The Play House, now located at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland, produces a regular schedule of comedies, drama, and musicals throughout the season, including frequent world premieres. Some of the theater's biggest names have performed there, including Hal Holbrook, Tom Hanks, and Ed Asner.
Recent productions have included "Gee's Bend," about three generations of quilters in rural Alabama; the timeless musical, "Man of La Mancha;" and the Chaim Potok's Jewish coming-of-age story, "The Chosen."
Playhouse Square is Cleveland's theater district. Home to the opulent, restored State, Ohio, Palace, Hanna, and Allen Theaters, Playhouse Square is second only to Broadway in a number of productions.
Located in downtown Cleveland on Euclid Avenue between E 14th and E 17th Streets, Playhouse Square hosts a full schedule of plays, musicals, concerts, children's theater, and dance.
Karamu House, located in Cleveland's Fairfax neighborhood, is the oldest African-American theater in the United States. Founded in 1915, it has been the launching site for such diverse actors and playwrights as Langston Hughes, Ruby Dee, Robert Guillaume, and countless others. In addition to its theater, Karamu runs a daycare facility and cultural arts classes for all age groups.
Recent productions have included "Gospel, Gospel, Gospel" and the annual production of Hughes' "Black Nativity."
Beck Center for the Arts
The Beck Center for the Arts, located ten minutes west of downtown Cleveland in Lakewood, Ohio, is the area's largest cultural arts center. The Beck produces a full schedule of dance, theater, and visual arts events throughout the year as well as holding art classes for students of all ages. Recent productions have included "The Full Monty" and "The Music of Harry Chapin."
Cleveland Public Theatre, founded in 1981, is housed in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood and its productions are shown in the James Levin Theater (formerly the Gordan Square Theater) at W. 65th Street and Detroit Ave. The theater company is known for bringing cutting edge, experimental theater to Cleveland audiences.
Chagrin Valley Little Theater
The Chagrin Valley Little Theater, located in the village of Chagrin Falls about 45 minutes east of Cleveland Ohio, is one of the oldest community theaters in the country. The theater company, founded in 1930, produces a full schedule of dramas, comedies, and musicals each year.
Recent productions have included "Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure" and "The Seven Year Itch."
Great Lakes Theater Festival
Great Lakes Theatre Festival is a permanent theater company, based at Cleveland's Playhouse Square. GLTF began in the 1950s as a Shakespearean troupe but has expanded to add works from other classic playwrights. They produce five unique productions each season.
Recent productions have included Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," "Arsenic and Old Lace," "All's Well that Ends Well," and the popular holiday favorite, "A Christmas Carol."
The Huntington Playhouse, in the Cleveland suburb of Bay Village, began in 1958 in the former carriage barn of the John Huntington Estate, part of the Huntington Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks. Today, the 246-seat theater produces seven plays each season, from early May through December
Porthouse Theatre is situated on the scenic grounds of the Blossom Music Center and next to the Cuyahoga National Recreation Area. This 500-seat theater is an outdoor, covered pavilion. Although it is outdoors, comfort is not spared as the seats are cushioned. The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable, a fun place to get together with family and friends. Porthouse hosts three productions each summer, from June through August.
The Carousel Dinner Theater closed its doors in 2009 after more than 30 years of entertaining Northeast Ohio theater fans.
Cain Park, located east of downtown Cleveland in the suburb of Cleveland Heights, is a summer performing arts park surrounded by 22 acres of woodland. The park's outdoor amphitheater hosts three theater productions each summer. Recent productions have included "The Wiz," "Act One," and "Harold and Maude."