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PlayhouseSquare is located along Euclid Avenue between E. 14th and E. 17th streets with 10 stages and almost 9,000 seats, including the Allen, Hanna, Ohio, State, Palace, and Second Stage among the largest theaters. It is the nation's second largest unified theater complex after Lincoln Center in New York City and the world's largest theater restoration project. Five majestic theaters built within 19 months of each other in the early 1920s have been transformed into a modern entertainment and economic district, with theaters that are among the best performance spaces in the U.S.
If you don't believe in the existence of a modern day Pied Piper or the importance of one individual in shaping the course of human affairs, you don't know the story of Cleveland's PlayhouseSquare.
Rising from dilapidation and the imminent threat of a wrecking ball because of the inspiration of one common man who could see the magnificence of the past and the potential of the future, and convince others of the same thing, Cleveland's PlayhouseSquare now is one of the most unique performance centers in the world. It has anchored the revitalization of Cleveland's downtown, and led to a resurgence in downtown residents attracted to a quality of life not seen in downtown in over half a century, if then.
If you would like to know the story of the phoenix-like rebirth of PlayhouseSquare and of Cleveland's great dreamer -- Ray Shepardson -- it's well told here:
THEATERS & RESIDENTIAL THEATER COMPANIES
Two of PlayhouseSquare's gems are the Allen and Hanna Theatres. Both are intimate, high tech performance spaces rebuilt inside larger theater spaces that typified urban centers before television and then digital technologies shifted the American entertainment focus to the home. The Second Stage at the time of its construction was one of only three flexible theaters in the U.S., providing the director with the ability to select the seating configuration.
The Hanna is one of the most historic theaters in the U.S. and the center of legitimate theater in Cleveland for generations.
Tom Hanks, who cut his acting teeth in Great Lakes Theater, championed and contributed to the repurposing of the Hanna Theatre into a home for Great Lakes Theater. The Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson (Hanks' wife) bar located in the back of the auditorium, is one element of the very different Hanna Theatre experience.
PlayhouseSquare has three other residential companies, including DANCECleveland, which features the finest national and international dance companies.
The Palace Theatre, perhaps the grandest of PlayhhouseSquare theaters, once played host to the royalty of the American stage, including Fannie Brice, Houdini, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, and the Three Stooges. Today, the Palace hosts national touring productions, generally part of PlayhouseSquare's KeyBank Broadway Series. The Broadway Series has over 25,000 subscribers, as of late 2012, ensuring that Cleveland receives the best of the touring productions with earlier scheduling than most cities. Broadway Series productions typically have about a two-week run.
Several restaurants serve PlayhouseSquare.
Otto Moser's, an historic deli, is located inside the main PlayhouseSquare complex.
Cowell & Hubbard is a very short walk down Euclid Avenue from PlayhouseSquare, and is located across the street from the Wyndham Cleveland at Playhouse Square hotel and offers Parisian cafe offerings for both carnivores and vegans. Cowell & Hubbard is included on the Plain Dealer's 2013 A-list of the 100 best restaurants in Greater Cleveland.
Cibreo Italian Kitchen opened in the early fall of 2013 and is located directly across Euclid Ave. from the Palace Theatre.
Another 2013 PlayhouseSquare addition is chef and restaurateur Zach Bruell's Dynomite Burgers, offering sandwiches for less than $10, and featuring specialty burgers offered at four of Bruell's acclaimed Cleveland restaurants, including L'Albatros, Cleveland's top-rated restaurant by TA reviewers. The speciaty burgers all feature different gourmet mayos. Dynomite, located on Euclid Ave. near E. 13th St., offers soft drinks, beer and wine.
Sungs House, a Korean fusion restaurant, also opened in 2013 inside the PlayhouseSquare complex. It's closed on Sundays.
PlayhouseSquare has robust public transportaton service.
The C-line and E-line downtown bus trollies will provide easy access to PlayhouseSquare from most downtown hotels until 11 p.m. Rides on these trolley lines are free. Visitors to PlayhouseSquare also can use these trollies to access restaurants on East 4th St. or in the Warehouse District and the Horseshoe Casino, both before and after performances. Service intervals on the trolleys are about every 10 minutes.
A station for the 24/7 Healthline bus rapid line is located in Playhouse Square on Euclid Ave.
PlayhouseSquare, with the sponsorship of Time Warner Cable, offers affordable $10 "Smart Seats" to many events.
PlayhouseSquare also develops real estate, including the Idea
Center which offers arts education programs and houses Cleveland's
public broadcasting facilities. PlayhouseSquare arguably is the nation's most
successful theater conservation and development organization.
For further reading:
Vacha, John; "Showtime in Cleveland: The Rise of a Regional Theater Center;" Kent State University Press; 2001.
"Playhouse Square Cleveland: An Entertaining History: 1810 to the 21st Century;" PlayhouseSquare Foundation; 1998.