Aug 19, 2009


I was strolling about the OpCleve offices today, clucking my best version of "Sister Christian," when my handler Lisa grabbed me. "Shut your beak and make yourself useful. It's your penance for getting 'Motoring! What's your price for flight?' in my head."

That's how I came to proofread stories for the next edition of our newsletter Bravo! (Don't tell, but I actually don't mind proofreading...I love red pens.) One article particularly interested me. In his column, Dean mentions the acoustic quirks of the State Theatre, where we present our operas. The theater was originally built for vaudeville, so, obviously, it wasn't optimized for orchestral playing. But, brilliant lad that he is, Dean has rearranged our orchestra in the pit to improve the audience's aural experience.

It had me wondering more about the PlayhouseSquare theaters and their history. Here's the skinny (per PlayhouseSquare itself):

Between 1921 and 1922, all five theaters opened to show silent movies and vaudeville. The State, with its footprint behind the Palace, has the longest theater lobby in the world at 320 feet. Movies became more popular during the Great Depression, but when WW II was over, theater patronage started to decline. (Blame the suburbs and TV.) All the theaters, except the Hanna, closed between 1968 and 1969.

The threatened razing of the Ohio and State Theatres in 1972 created a public outcry. (As it should! Can you imagine a bulldozer having its way with those beauties?!) Preservationists staved off demoliton and some renovations allowed for periodic performances as money was gradually raised for full-scale repairs.

Notably, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris opened in the State Theatre lobby (well, it's certainly big enough!) in 1973 and ran for two years. Restorations on the Ohio, State and Palace were completed in the '80s and the Allen in 1998.

Call Cleveland what you will (but don't you dare say "Mistake on the Lake"), but it is frickin' awesome to have these great theaters here. Everytime I sit in one of those velvety, red seats, I feel lucky.


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