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Inspiring Acts of Kindness at PlayhouseSquare

Published December 22nd, 2014 by | No Comments

It's the season of giving and it seems that no matter what you are celebrating, there is always a time to celebrate the gifts of giving and kindness. As we are nearing the end of a great year and beginning to reflect on all that it was, we wanted to share a story that seemed to reflect the spirit of the giving season.

Story courtesy of PlayhouseSquare cast member Jim Kraizel; written by cast member Kelsey Tomlinson.

It was Sunday afternoon, the last day Motown the Musical was in town, that Jim Kraizel found himself outside the State Theatre. Jim is one of our Group Services Account Executives, and he was greeting motor coaches that regularly shuttle groups to the theater.

The show was about to start, and one last motor coach pulled up and began to unload. A night at the theater is often a dressy affair, so imagine Jim’s surprise when amidst all these elegantly-clad theater-goers, a much more casually-dressed couple stepped off the bus.

As it turns out, this motor coach arrived so close to curtain because it had been lost! Circling around Tremont, it caught the attention of a couple taking an afternoon walk. They graciously hopped on board and took it upon themselves to direct the motor coach to PlayhouseSquare, allowing all those people to make it to the show on time.

That’s an inspiring performance in and of itself, but there’s more to it! That couple taking a walk in Tremont was none other than Amo & Margy Judd. Not only are they season ticket holders, but Margy is a member of the PlayhouseSquare Board of Trustees. They were thrilled that the motor coach was headed to PlayhouseSquare, and wanted to ensure that everyone aboard had the best possible time in Cleveland.

Thank you, Margy and Amo Judd, for being excellent ambassadors for PlayhouseSquare and Cleveland. Your random act of kindness saved the day!

If you receive or witness an inspiring act of kindness within our theaters, be sure to post it on our Facebook page or tweet us at @PlayhouseSquare using the hashtag #InspiringPerformance.

A Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone!

Published December 20th, 2014 by | No Comments

Uh oh, guys. We are rolling in on the most busy shopping time of the year—there’s less than a week to go until Christmas! Are you still scrambling about trying to find that perfect gift for your special someone? Does that special someone love Cleveland? And are you tired of long lines and agonizing crowds at the mall? If you answered yes to any of those questions, this gift list is for you. Check out the best gifts Cleveland has to offer.

Best Cleveland gifts for…

“Oh dear me, I’ve experienced too much delicious food,” said no one ever. Whether your loved one is a cuisine connoisseur or can simply appreciate a quality meal, these holiday opportunities will make the perfect gift:

Purchase a $100 Cibréo gift card, and receive a free $20 Cibréo gift card. Your loved one can experience some fine Italian food the next time they’re downtown, and you get a small gift for yourself! The gift card is redeemable at any of the Driftwood Restaurant Group locations, which includes Washington Place Bistro & Inn and Welshfield Inn.
> Purchase here!

“Reds, whites, and small bites.” If that doesn’t sound like an ideal evening, you’ve been doing evenings wrong. Get a $50 gift card from Bin 216 for your loved one, and you’ll receive a free $10 card. This gift card is also redeemable at 87 West in Crocker Park and Rothschild Farms.
> Purchase here!

BinPhoto by Bin 216

Bavarian pretzels, sauerkraut, live music and beer. You could literally hand your loved one an Oktoberfest for Christmas. Get on over to Hofbräuhaus Cleveland today, and you will receive a free $10 rewards card for every $50 you get in gift cards. Don’t forget your Lederhosen! Prost!
> Learn more!

The King has returned, downtown got a new record-setting chandelier (thank you GE!), and for a minute there The Browns had the best record they’ve held in decades. It’s an exciting time to be in Cleveland, so what better gift than something with a little CLE pride?

Chocolate. Rich, divine, melt-in-your-mouth, and fabulous. Even Scrooge can’t deny that chocolate is the perfect way to make someone’s holiday bright. Malley’s Chocolates is definitely the way to go, but they’ve put something extra special in the mix this year: the Greetings from Cleveland Box. Featuring a picture of the Terminal Tower lit green and pink (for Malley’s 80th anniversary!), this box is truly yummy and highlights a Cleveland landmark!
> Order one now!

malleyPhoto by Malley's Chocolates

Rock your way to the top by getting your loved one a Hard Rock Cafe pin, featuring PlayhouseSquare. What better way to show some Cleveland pride than by gifting someone with a Cleveland-exclusive pin? Plus, 15% of the proceeds support PlayhouseSquare! Come down and get yourself some dinner, and pick up one of these bad boys today!
> Hard Rock information

Virtually everything you love about Cleveland is represented on a shirt, sock, or poster at the Cleveland Clothing Company. From baby onesies to CLE-themed ugly Christmas sweaters (and PlayhouseSquare shirts too!), you can please everyone on your list from 1 to 92. NYC ain’t got nothin’ on us. Go CLE!
> Shop online now!

clecoPhoto by Cleveland Globetrotter

Here’s something neat! We didn’t want to steal from another fabulously-made holiday catalog, so we’re just going to give you a link to this list. Created by Cool Cleveland, this features gifts for every age and interest. And the best part? It’s a Shop Local list—everything on the list is from a NEO entrepreneur!
> Check it out!

You remember A Christmas Story, right? A young boy’s quest for a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle? Did you know that movie was filmed right here in Cleveland? Give your loved one the opportunity to tour the house! Or better yet, pick from a variety of sizes and present them with the iconic leg lamp. Who doesn’t love fishnets in the window?
> Learn more!

xmasstoryPhoto by A Christmas Story House and Museum

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include the largest performing arts center outside of New York on our holiday giving guide. After all, if you’re reading our blog you must like us at least a little! ; )

If you’re looking for the perfect stocking stuffer this holiday season, we recommend this little chandelier air freshener. We know it’s your secret way of telling them their car stinks, but your loved one will only see the nod to our city’s great GE Chandelier.
> Buy it now!

Have you checked out our PlayhouseSquare online gift shop lately? We have some really cool stuff on there! There’s show merchandise, PlayhouseSquare items, and Dazzle the District shirts—everything you need to adequately dress or impress that special someone.
Shop now!


We say that this next item “always gets applause,” and it really does! It’s not everyday someone gets to pick from over 1200 of the best concerts, family shows, Broadway musicals, and more! The PlayhouseSquare gift card is the chance for your loved one to make the memories that will last a lifetime.
> Order one now!

Baby, it’s cold outside, so be safe out there no matter how much shopping you have left to do. Happy holidays!

Theater news for the week...

Published December 19th, 2014 by | No Comments

Each week, we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway news and stories. Check back every Friday to see what you missed this week and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at PlayhouseSquare this weekend. Enjoy!


Promo video opens for Glee final season
Hey Gleeks, everyone's preparing for the final season of Glee to open this January, and a new promo video has launched. With a quick glimpse into the show, see the excitement - and a fast clip of Lea Michelle singing, "Let It Go." ( Read more...

2016 Cabaret national tour
Emma Stone made quite the buzz with her role as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, and now the show is making waves with the announcement of a national tour in January, 2016. The tour plans to hit 20 cities across the US, and casting and official show dates will be revealed soon. ( Read more...

Broadway dates set for School of Rock-The Musical
Andrew Lloyd Webber has worked hard on his stage adaptation of School of Rock, and with the direction of Les Miserables' Laurence Connor, will begin previewing the Broadway show in November, 2016. Casting is set to begin in January, and the official opening date is in December, 2016. ( Read more...

We say goodbye to The Colbert Report with his best Broadway interviews
Last night we said goodbye to Stephen Colbert's late night talk show, The Colbert Report. During his show, Colbert interviewed many from the world of Broadway. Check out a few of his interviews with popular Broadway stars. ( Read more...

Upcoming events at PlayhouseSquare

A Christmas Carol 
A Christmas Story
The Santaland Diaries

Happy Holidays in the CLE

Published December 17th, 2014 by | No Comments


Whether you live near or far, there’s no hiding it: CLE is full of pride. And with great reason! What better time to come be a part of all the excitement than the holidays? The city and its suburbs are full of cheer, and you could be a part of it! Here are a few things to get you started planning your visit Downtown.

Start by hitching a ride on Lolly the Trolley every Saturday in December for the Downtown in December tours. In the tour you’ll see Cleveland highlights new and old like The 9, Horseshoe Casino, Convention Center, and – of course – PlayhouseSquare. Did we mention the tour is free with a smile?

jameskazanPhoto by James Kazan

Swing by the holiday displays all around the city. The Horseshoe Casino has recreated the old-fashioned holiday scene, Holidays at the Higbee, transforming the window displays into a winter wonderland. There’s always a sight to be seen at The Arcade and Tower City, which are garnished in garlands and décor. You can finish up right here at PlayhouseSquare to see Cleveland’s holiday tree and winter displays. While you’re here, visit the Allen Theatre to see the Festival of Trees as it lights up the lobby.


After getting your fill of decorations, grab dinner or a cocktail in CLE. Make dinner reservations for your group at Cibreo or Cowell and Hubbard, or stop by Bin 216 or Parnell’s Irish Pub for a drink. The new Hofbrauhaus Cleveland is open right by PlayhouseSquare, and if you’re looking for a lively atmosphere and hearty German dishes, this is the place to go. Not to mention – they host the Christmas Christkindlmarkt, featuring traditional German foods and gifts, open this Thursday through Sunday.

1556473_498485606924110_1226152010_oPhoto from Cibreo

Then hop over to see a show at PlayhouseSquare. This week marks the end of classic Christmas comedies A Christmas Story and The Santaland Diaries, and there is still time to catch A Christmas Carol. For the season’s music lovers, Mannheim Steamroller is sure to bring a spectacular holiday show this Friday! Tickets sell out quick, so don’t miss your chance.

Feeling adventurous? Check out these suburban holiday hits:

Interior Evening BannerPhoto from Cleveland Botanical Gardens

Last minute holiday shopping at:

What's on your holiday to do list?


Everyone Is Welcome

Published December 12th, 2014 by | No Comments

Vice President of Community Engagement & Education Daniel Hahn explains why PlayhouseSquare is undertaking a new initiative to provide sensory-friendly programming.

I remember the first time I ever heard the phrase, “sensory-friendly performance.” In April of 2012, a friend had posted a link on Facebook to a story about a special performance of Disney’s Mary Poppins. A dedicated showing for guests on the autism spectrum and their families was being offered, the second such production of its kind. The previous fall, a sensory-friendly version of Disney’s The Lion King was met with such enthusiasm that the initiative had gained a foothold, and Brian Williams was doing a feature story on NBC Nightly News. I was deeply moved by the piece, and immediately began imagining how a sensory-friendly performance could be made possible in Cleveland.

At the time, I was the education director for PlayhouseSquare’s resident company Great Lakes Theater. I thought that it might be possible to offer such a production of the holiday classic A Christmas Carol. Planning for the event took well over a year, but the team at Great Lakes pulled off the region’s first ever sensory-friendly performance in November 2013, partnering with Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Milestones Autism Resources. Watching guests being welcomed into the Ohio Theatre who had never before attended a live, professional theatrical performance as a family was inspiring. This was an initiative I wanted to see expand at PlayhouseSquare. For me, there was also a personal connection.

My children attend The Academy of Saint Adalbert in Berea, a school that has incorporated the STEPS Center for Autism into their very fabric. Children on the spectrum are mainstreamed into the typical classroom in an inclusive manner. Although my own children are not on the spectrum, many of their friends and classmates are. I work at one of the greatest places you can imagine, the largest performing arts center in America outside of New York City. I want my children’s friends to be welcome where I work. And so we are presenting our very first sensory-friendly performance of a play for young audiences, Paige Hernandez’s Havana Hop.

It is my hope that this is the first of many such performances yet to come, because families of all abilities deserve a welcoming, nonjudgmental seat in the theater. The arts, of course, are for everyone, and it is a privilege to make accessible offerings available to the widest possible audience in our community.

Learn more about our sensory-friendly performance of Havana Hop on January 13, 2015 here.

Havana Hop is part of the University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Children’s Theater Series at PlayhouseSquare.

This week in theater news...

Published December 12th, 2014 by | No Comments

Theater news for the week…

Each week, we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway news and stories. Check back every Friday to see what you missed this week and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at PlayhouseSquare this weekend. Enjoy!

Happening on Broadway…

Anna Kendrick sings in The Last Five Years trailer
As we have all been busy preparing for the holidays, Anna Kendrick has been busy working on her upcoming films. The next Anna Kendrick hit to break the internet is the trailer for The Last Five Years as she plays Cathy. ( Read more...

Go backstage with Disney on Broadway!
On December 14, you can get a backstage look at the Broadway shows by Disney! Watch all the favorites like Newsies, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast. You'll hear special commentary and stories from the casts of the shows and see what it's like behind the scenes on Backstage with Disney on Broadway! ( Read more...

Andrew Lloyd Weber talks Cats
As his musical hit visits London this holiday season, Andrew Lloyd Webber took a few minutes to talk about the Cats performances - and about performer Nicole Scherzinger's (of Pussycat Doll fame) role in the musical. ( Read more...

Upcoming events at PlayhouseSquare

Debbie Gifford and Josh Rzepka
Joy - An Irish Christmas
Cleveland Jazz Orchestra - A Not So Silent Night
Mannheim Steamroller

This week in theater news...

Published December 5th, 2014 by | No Comments

Theater news for the week…

Each week, we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway news and stories. Check back every Friday to see what you missed this week and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at PlayhouseSquare this weekend. Enjoy!

Happening on Broadway…

Anna Kendrick performs in Into the Woods 
With all the excitement surrounding Into the Woods, opening December 25, a clip of Anna Kendrick performing "On the Steps of the Palace" is creating some buzz. The actress worked alongside Steven Sondheim in making very slight changes to the lyrics of the song for the film adaptation of the musical. ( Read more...

Stephen Sondheim wins Presidential Medal of Freedom
On November 24, 19 were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one being Steven Sondheim. The highest civilian honor award was presented by President Obama at a ceremony. In his career, Sondheim has been awarded 8 Tony Awards, 8 Grammys, an Oscar and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. ( Read more...

Snapshots from Peter Pan Live!
Did you miss Peter Pan Live!? Not to worry. Thanks to some help from social media, check out these snapshots from the show! ( Read more...

Upcoming events at PlayhouseSquare

Straight No Chaser
Master Class with Irving Berlin's White Christmas
Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour
Debbie Gifford and Josh Rzepka
Joy - An Irish Christmas

An Interview with Michael Horsely from Irving Berlin's White Christmas

Published December 1st, 2014 by | No Comments

Our Buzz Extra writer, Alicia Hansen had the exciting opportunity to interview Michael Horsely, the musical director of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. As part of our Broadway Buzz program, Alicia will take you behind the scenes of each KeyBank Broadway Series show and interview a member of the show’s cast, crew or creative team.


Michael Horsely, the musical director of the 2014-2015 KeyBank Broadway Series holiday season offering Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, loved music even as a child. Studying from a young age to become a concert pianist, it was directing a Gerswhin review early in his career that would bridge the way between classical music and musical theater. Mr. Horsely would craft his career to become a resident musical theater director and conductor, elevating his career to where he is today. Michael shares his thoughts about his involvement with the holiday classic coming to Cleveland this December.

What role did you play in the development of this holiday movie classic making its way to the stage?

For the past 22 years, I have served as the music supervisor at the St. Louis MUNY, where we produce seven shows in a summer. Years ago, when the producer at that time had a relationship with Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, Paramount gave permission to translate certain movies to the stage. White Christmas was the first of those movies. We developed the show there at the MUNY. The following year, that producer in St. Louis connected with a producer in New York who then produced another version of the show based on what we did at the MUNY. It would then continue to be redeveloped by several companies – because we didn’t tour the show like we do now. Eventually, a touring production was booked, and then it played two years on Broadway. Now it continues to tour. Since I’ve been with it from its conception, it’s great to still be a part of it.

Can you speak to the songs selected to be a part of the musical? How it feels to perform them, and what feedback do you receive from the audiences?

As one of our foremost American musical theater composers, Irving Berlin’s music sits perfectly with this American story during the time of war. It really rings true to the heart of the sentiment. The music is the basis of all of that. And they’re just great tunes! You can’t beat ‘em.

The reactions from the audiences are filled with gratitude, especially as music – as any art form – progressively changes. Today, there are new pieces being produced or older pieces being revived in musical theater, but White Christmas is one of those musicals that the audience just loves hearing again. As in a traditional type of music, a piece of art or anything that rings from your past, you have a reference of life. You have this wonderful way of feeling like “this is familiar” or “I really like this.” The audiences continually tell me how much they appreciate hearing these songs again because of that connection. That “warm and fuzzy feeling” provided by these songs is so easy to access. That access is key to helping some people – especially those in troubled times during the holidays – connect to their souls. It’s food for the heart and food for the soul.

Would you provide a glimpse into a “day in the life” of a musical director of a touring production?

During the rehearsal period, I steer the show musically in teaching all the music and ensuring the style remains in in tact. I make sure it all works together with the choreography, and that the tempo of the piece continues to tell the story musically.

Once the show is on tour, there are certain things to do in each city. For example: In Cleveland the Tuesday morning of the opening, I have a four-hour orchestra rehearsal to review the music with the local musicians hired by a local contractor. I teach them the show that day and we open that night. It’s intense. Throughout the week, we will rehearse the understudies so they can be ready to go on if needed. We have to remember the understudies need the stage time as well to make sure they are comfortable to go on – sometimes at a moment’s notice.

As for those moments right before a performance, it depends on the needs of the day. If there are no concerns, I’m there 45 minutes before the opening number – the “downbeat,” as we call it. But, if there are certain needs, I arrive earlier. Another example: last night, one of the members of our quintet was swung out to watch the show, so I had a special rehearsal for that person replacing the person who stepped out.

Being flexible is the foundation. That’s why it’s called live theater. Even during the performance you never know what’s going to happen. It’s life. Things happen. They forget lines. Or they jump. As a conductor in the pit, you continually have to stay present with the show so that if things do happen, you’re ready to take action.

What challenges arise with touring, as a person, or as a part of the show?

As far as touring, there are so many aspects to the job, so there’s always something that can happen. One example is if something occurs to one of the musicians in the pit, there’s the matter of addressing that -- working with the contractor to make sure a replacement is found and making sure the show stays in tact. Or when an actor gets sick – it’s something you deal with, especially during cold and flu season. Also, on the personal side, I feel it’s my responsibility to stay as fit and healthy as possible in order to do my job to my best.

What makes this production of White Christmas so exciting to be a part of as you tour the country?

The tradition of the story makes this production so special – that heartfelt message that is sent out to all. When you’re doing this eight times a week for eight different audiences, you’re sending that message out to each audience member to receive. To me, that’s the reason why I do what I do. I’m the vortex of that energy that is being produced, bringing together the orchestra to the stage, then it translates out to the audience. It’s a circle of energy that becomes synergistic within that two and a half hour period. It just leaves you with a very uplifting result. In this particular tour, I feel the message of communication, love and what that Christmas joy really is. I can feel it, I can see it and that makes the experience incredibly special.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas comes to Cleveland December 2-14 at the State Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. For more information, please visit the show’s page on the PlayhouseSquare website.


Alicia Hansen is the writer behind Poise in Parma, a healthy balance blog for Clevelanders. A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College’s theatre program, Alicia is an event and marketing professional, a yoga teacher and proud Cleveland arts supporter. Follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest


Broadway and Turkey Day

Published November 25th, 2014 by | No Comments



Animated and ready for the day, Tom Turkey leads the floats down Broadway.

For 88 years, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become as much a part of Thanksgiving as eating turkey! Not only is this an annual holiday tradition for many, but since 1977 the parade has been incorporating one of our most favorite things: BROADWAY! For going on four decades, the television broadcasts of the parade have cast a huge spotlight on the Great White Way in a GREAT BIG WAY!

And the lineup of shows for this year’s parade will certainly not disappoint when the Tony® Award-winning Best Musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, Finding Neverland, The Last Ship, On the Town, Honeymoon in Vegas, and Side Show all make their Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade debuts. Not to mention a performance from the highly anticipated television event Peter Pan: Live, starring the beautiful Allison Williams and (not as beautiful) Christopher Walken.

Blog-GentlemansGuideIf the shows aren’t enough to get you excited, then how about performances from Idina Menzel (Wicked, Disney’s Frozen); Quvenzhané Wallis from  next month’s big-screen remake of Annie; and Les Misérables alum, actor/singer Nick Jonas. Other artists en route to Macy’s Herald Square include The Sing Off champs Pentatonix; rock legends KISS; and Meghan Trainor. Plus, word has it that Taylor Swift is also set to perform!

Blog-ElfBalloonWith all of these fabulous musical performers, don’t forget to keep an eye out for other amazing parade attractions like the Elf on the Shelf balloon and the Sesame Street float. Central Park West may not be the yellow brick road, but balloons of Dorothy and her friends will be floating along to celebrate the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz.

Follow the action online with #MacysParade or download the official Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade App to receive updated parade news and design your own balloon! So, if it’s not already, make the parade part of your holiday traditions this year. You won’t want to miss out on all the fun.

This week in theater news...

Published November 21st, 2014 by | No Comments

Theater news for the week…

Each week, we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway news and stories. Check back every Friday to see what you missed this week and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at PlayhouseSquare this weekend. Enjoy!

Happening on Broadway…

Kristin Chenoweth's Coming Home set to air on PBS
In her first television special, Kristin Chenoweth performs in front of her neighbors, family and friends at the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center in her hometown of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The set list doesn't just include songs from her musical career, but touches on all of her musical interests. Don't miss out on this emotional performance, airing on PBS November 28, as well as CD and DVD. ( Read more...

Mike Nichols' impact on Broadway
On November 19, Broadway lost legendary director Mike Nichols at the age of 83. Whoopi Goldberg, Cynthia Nixon and Robert Redford - just to name a few - all attribute part of their successful careers to Nichols' support. Take a look at some of the other celebrities who had a strong connection to Nichols. ( Read more...

"Backstage with Disney on Broadway" will air on ABC
Disney is marking 20 years on Broadway, and to celebrate will air a one-hour special, "Backstage with Disney on Broadway." The show will take viewers behind-the-scenes of shows like Newsies, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King showcasing the creation and production of the shows. ( Read more...

Upcoming events at PlayhouseSquare

Free Comedy Happy Hour
The Three Sisters
Tony Bennett
Mike Epps
The Joffrey Ballet's Nutcracker

About Us

A not-for-profit performing arts center that presents and produces a wide variety of performing arts, advances arts education and creates a destination that is a superior location for entertainment business and residential living, thereby strengthening the economic vitality of the region.


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