Ohio Theater (Columbus)

model of Ohio Theater

39 E State St, Columbus, OH 43215

All large cities in Ohio, and some smaller, have a live show venues.  One of the states major venues is the Ohio Theater located in the heart of downtown Columbus. Just across the street from the Statehouse, and using the same parking garage, the theater blends into the taller buildings surrounding it, but somehow stands out.

The Ohio Theater originally opened in 1928 as a Loew’s showing movies and some live entertainment. Eventually the competition from television caused the movie house to close in 1969. The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts was formed to save the historic building. 50 years later the organization and the Ohio Theater are still going strong. While somethings have changed and been modernized, the original fell and look of the building is still intact. It has also been expanded to accommodate it’s role as the “official theater of the state of Ohio.” Many of the cities major preforming arts organizations, including “Columbus Symphony, BalletMet, and Broadway in Columbus,” use the building as their home venue.

The theater is very easy to find. The entryway is light up by a large marquee. Inside the lobby is a little small for the size of the theater and can become crowded. The lobby has a large bar taking up a bit of the space, and lines from it can get in the way at times. The loge too has a balcony for extra space which over looks the main lobby, and a separate bar. The decor of original building is the same as it was in its heyday as a movie place. The expansion on the side, however, does a nice job of adding the extra space that is needed. This is where a coffee bar and small snack bar are located. It is in a modern style and fells like the second building it is.  Access to the theater is easy to find with the friendly staff ready to help. The upper sections are a little harder to find. Being an old movie house the restrooms are smaller and can get very busy at peak times.

The theater itself is nice. Seating is comfortable. The sight lines to the stage are good from most seats. The sound has been upgraded over the years and is well balanced. It does not feel as if it is being projected from speakers but as if the performers are just louder. The stage is large enough to be able to hold almost any production. From concerts to plays to movies, The Ohio theater is a great place to see a show.

Tip: Located on across the street from the State house the Theater is in a well used part of town. Before the show there are a lot of places to eat and drink, but they can become very crowded with the downtown crowds. Make sure to arrive early. Parking at the Statehouse has one of the best show rates in the state. 



Cryptozohio: Stories of the Stage

Photo by J. Ellwood

Theaters have a long-standing history of ghosts and strange things that go bump in the night. It has become a practice to leave a single light burning on stage when the theater is empty. Some say this is for safety, but the name, ghost light, says otherwise.

From former actors to patrons who never wanted to leave Ohio’s theaters have some stories of their own.

Victoria Theater: It is said that the private box on the left is haunted by a former patron who was attacked there. People have reported feeling uneasy and even been attacked by the woman. Another ghost is that of a man who committed suicide by stabbing himself with a knife fastened to the back of a seat. It is said that his face can be seen in the curtains back stage from time to time. One night an actress vanished from her dressing room. She is said to have never left the building however. Her perfume can be smelled, her petticoats heard as she crosses the stage, and she has even been reported in the 3rd floor restroom.

Playhouse Square: Made up of many theaters, Playhouse is a destination for Cleveland’s patrons of the arts, both living and not. The Hanna Theatre is one of the most haunted of the bunch. Over 70 different entities have been said to reside there. Patrons have been seen in the balcony dressed for a show. Most of the mischief is said to happen backstage with props, paint, and tools seeming to move around on their own.

Ohio Theatre (Columbus): An old stage manager is said to haunt this theater in Columbus. He is reported opening elevators and playing pranks on the crew. A child is said to haunt the basement. As with most other old theaters the balcony is houses patrons who never wanted to leave.

Music Hall: One of the most haunted theaters in Ohio, but not because of the people working in it. The theater was built on top of the Cincinnati Orphan Asylum, an orphanage for children of the insane asylum. Ghosts were reported before the theater even opened.  The sounds of the ghost making mischief or going about a normal routine are heard throughout the building. They are patrons, cast, and crew who should not be. The Travel Channel even named it one of The Most Terrifying Places in America. If you want to experience the Ghost of Music Hall, take a tour. (yeah they sell out early so check back next year)

Is this all of them, no. This is just a small portion of the haunts from the stages of Ohio. Stay tuned for more Stories from the Stage.

If you go to one of the theaters listed above go for a show. Do not harass the theaters. They do too much good for that.

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery


2600 DeWeese Parkway, Dayton, OH 45414

The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a “kids” museum in Dayton. While the museum may be aimed at kids, parents will have fun too. With a planetarium, zoo, play areas, and a tree house there is plenty to see and do.

The lower level of the museum is where the Space Theater, Hall of Universe, and Science Central are. Science Central is a big water table where kids can learn about the force of water and how it shapes our world. Situated around the room is other exhibits on forces in our world. The Space Theater is the large 3d dome theater for the museum. The programs are included in the price of admission and vary greatly through out the day. Check the website to see what is showing when and plan accordingly as the shows do not repeat.

P09-26-15_15-54Through out the museum are around 100 animals. The animals are mostly small mammals, reptiles, and birds. The largest is a huge Burmese Python. The Discovery Zoo, a fully AZA accredited zoo, houses many of the larger animals of the museum. The otters, sloth, and ducks are fun to watch. The best time to go is during the daily otter feeding. The rest of the animals are spread out among the exhibits.

Some of the exhibits on the second floor are aimed more at play than learning. Explorers Crossing is where kids, and adults alike, can explore a court house, a grocery store, a mechanics shop, and more. The areas are sponsored by local businesses, but instead of felling like a commercial, the sponsorship actually helps to enhance the feel of being in a real local shop.

The rest of the upper level is a mix of smaller exhibits aimed more at learning, but still keeping the fun atmosphere. These include a mummydesert, woodlands, an exhibit on waste management, and an African room. The African room contains Nesiur the mummy, a real mummified human, along with other Egyptian artifacts and artifacts and art from around Africa. Smaller kids may not find these areas as fun as Explorer Crossing.

Hidden in the back of the museums second floor are the Science on a Sphere and Treehouse. Science on a Sphere is a large globe that shows a video about our earth. The seamless 360 degree show is a wonder in itself and worth finding. The Treehouse is a real life tree house set out in the woods behind the museum. It is connected to the main museum and is almost like still being inside the museum. Surrounded by bird feeders it is a great place to see not only flying animals, but creatures on the ground below that come to eat the food that falls.

The best time to visit the museum is on weekends when most of the show and hands on activities are available. While adults will have fun they may not learn much from the museum with most of the facts aimed at littler kids. Overall the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a great way to learn about the world around us.

PS. Football fans can visit Triangle Park, which is located right behind the museum. It is the site of the first NFL game ever played.

Tecumseh! Outdoor Drama


5968 Marietta Rd, Chillicothe, OH 45601

Some consider Tecumseh to be the greatest Shawnee leader ever to have lived. Tecumseh! Outdoor Drama tells the story of this great man with romance gunfire, and a fist or two. More than just a drama, Tecumseh is a full evening of activities in one location. With Behind-the-Scenes Tours, living history, food, show, museum, and gift shop there is something for everyone.

To know how the story is told, and some more history of the man, take the Behind-the-Scenes Tour. The tour is a one hour backstage show of its own. The tour starts with Information on how the location of the venue was chosen, the setup of the stage and lake, and the buildings used. From there it moves on to the more popular action portion. The guns, fights, and safety of the production are both explained and demonstrated. The tour ends with the horses and some other effects used. Over all the tour is a must for anyone wanting to know more about the production itself.

Fox fall during backstage tour

Between the tour and the show is a great time to check out the “Tecumseh!” Snack Shack or “Tecumseh!” Terrace Buffet. From pizza to popcorn, plenty of choices are offered at the shack. For those looking to eat a full meal the buffet is a good value vs driving into town, finding place to eat, and trying to deal with traffic on the way back. The buffet is a basic fried chicken dinner with fixings.

Before the show is also a great time to visit the Gift shop and Museum. The gift shop is a small affair with trinkets and toys. The main draw is the Tecumseh themed merchandise. The museum is a small hallway with a few artifacts and trinkets of the time period.  A quick stop before the show (unlike everything else it closes for the night 15 minutes before curtain call) can help to put some of the facts about the time period into place.

Starting with the early days of the settlement of the Northwest Territory and ending during the War of 1812 the show itself is brought to life through dialogue, battle reenactments, and the outdoor setting.  The script can at times be a little reminiscent of 1950’s westerns. The acting at times also seemed a bit high school drama. Overall the outdoor setting and large staging helped to gloss over any problems.

With no electronic amplification the dialogue is surprisingly easy to hear due to the shape of the mountain. The same shape that directs the voices of the actors also contains the blasts of the guns and cannons. It can get quit noisy at times. The guns, being period accurate, use black powder. Along with the noise comes the smoke. Anyone sensitive to noise and smoke should take caution during the second act.

Overall the Tecumseh! Outdoor Drama in Chillicothe, Ohio is an evening’s worth of the loud and proud life of one of the greatest people to live in the Ohio region.

Cautions: The show is loud, full of smoke at times, and outdoors. If it rains you will get wet.

La Comedia Dinner Theatre

765 W Central Ave, Springboro, OH 45066

La Comedia Dinner Theatre is located in Springboro, OH. It is a dinner theatre and much more. La Comedia has been putting on shows since the 1970’s, so they have perfected the dinner and theatre idea. The theater normally puts on about six Broadway type shows along with many concerts. The shows range from newer musicals to classic favorites. Many of the actors who star in shows are locals, but many also are from New York. The productions try to have the best cast available. Each year the good part is that La Comedia puts on some classic Broadway musicals that older audience will remember. They also put on newer shows and kids classics. The season generally has something for anybody looking for family friendly entertainment.

La Comedia has a good sound system so the actors can always be heard and the dancing is normally really good. The stage is floor level and the audience sits on many sides, so the action of the play or musical is up close. The seating is the dinner tables, which are on levels rising about 4 feet up each row giving a good view to each person attending.

The real star of La Comedia is not the show itself, but the food. Nights start with the house signature salad with the Papaya Chutney Dressing. This dressing is a very good compliment to any salad. The evening continues with a wonderful buffet. The buffet has chef-carved meats, a variety of pastas and fresh vegetables, fresh-baked breads, some deep fried cod, and their famous sweet potato soufflé.  The buffet also normally has some dishes that go along with the theme of the show, so coming back for a new show one gets something different. Each show also has a different desert. The desert is delivered to the table after the buffet is over. The nice thing about the buffet experience is guest who arrive early are allowed to the buffet first. This is not only a nicety, but also keeps the buffet line short.

La Comedia is a great place to see a show and get a meal. One should arrive early and dress appropriately. La Comedia will leave you will a full stomach and good times, not to mention a head full of show tunes.

Playhouse Square

1501 Euclid Ave #200Cleveland, OH 44115

Here is Playhouse Squares mission: 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 housing, thereby strengthening the economic vitality of the region.

Playhouse Square is located in Cleveland and is more than just one theater and more than one resident company. Playhouse Square hosts Opera Cleveland, DANCECleveland, Ohio Ballet, Great Lakes Theater Festival, Tri-C Cultural Arts Series, Tri-C Jazz Festival, and a Broadway Series. Playhouse Square theaters include the Allen Theater, State Theater, Palace Theater, 14th St. Theater, Ohio Theater, and Hanna Theater. Playhouse Square is the 2nd largest theater complex in the country.

In 1921 four of the theaters opened and over the years they had fallen in disarray and were in great need of repair. Eventually the theaters were restored and placed under one direction. Nearby buildings were placed under the same roof. Ones that were nearby were connected in spirit with a giant chandler over the street.

Many Broadway touring shows are shown in the Palace Theater. This theater is a great place to see a musical. It is large and ornate. The stage is big enough to house large productions. The sound quality is good. The seats are of good quality. The alignment of the stage and seats gives a good view of the show. Some touring shows are use other theaters in the complex and multiple events can happen at once.

Playhouse Square also has a Discovery Theater Series for families and a Discovery Theater Series for Schools along with many other educational events.

Playhouse Square hosts the Great Lakes Theater Festival each year at the Ohio and Hannah Theater. This is a great time to from Fall to Spring to see a great local production.  This festival has had actors the like of Donald Moffat, Larry Linville, and Tom Hanks. It started out with plays by William Shakespeare, but now includes many other classics.

The surrounding area of the theaters is filled with fine restaurants, a Wyndahm Hotel, and lots of parking garages.

Playhouse Square is more than one theater and more than one company.  Each theater brings a unique show and experience to the theater lover.  What is great is one can find at least one show (dance, music, musicals, plays, and more) to watch a year. If one only went to one show they would really have to hold themselves back. Playhouse Square has too many offering in a year to only go to one show. If you live in Cleveland make it a point to see a show here. If you plan on visiting Cleveland time your trip to when your favorite show is playing.

Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center

1 W 2nd St, Dayton, OH 45402

The Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center, known as The Schuster, is a large theater. The Schuster is a grand theater, but still just a theater. Unlike some other local venues The Schuster has not had time to gain a historic vibe. But look out, it will.

Large enough to hold full Broadway performances but versatile enough to be a grand concert hall, the 2300 seat Mead Theater is the heart of the performance center. With specially designed walls that can change to fit the sound needs of any production, most seats get a great audio presentation. With no posts or other structural intrusions the views are just as good.

Outside of the main hall is the smaller 150-seat Mathile Black Box Theater. Good for small productions and rehearsals but out of place in such a grand venue.

The entry hall is something to see in itself. Containing a gourmet restaurant and three 3 story palm trees (fake, not enough light in Ohio’s winters.) the lobby is large enough to get one in the mood to see a Broadway production but does not over shadow the main theater.

Whether seeing the Dayton Philharmonic, Dayton Opera, Dayton Ballet, or one of the Broadway level productions, the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center is a great place to go in downtown Dayton.

Quick Tip:  The main ceiling contains the night sky as seen over Kitty Hawk North Carolina on Dec 3, 1903. A historic day for some reason (It is Dayton! look it up) Also see the lobby from the top balcony. A really Cool view.