PlayhouseSquare is located along Euclid Avenue between E. 14th and E. 17th streets in Cleveland's Playhouse Square district.  With 10 stages and almost 9,000 seats, including the Allen, Hanna, Ohio, State, Connor Palace, and Outcalt 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 center, with theaters that are among the best performance spaces in the U.S.

Today, PlayhouseSquare offers a robust schedule of events, ranging from touring Broadway plays, original productions, performances and even prominent speakers.

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:

If you want to see the world's largest outdoor chandelier, it's in Playhouse Square.  Obviously, it is more spectacular after nightfall.


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 Outcalt Theatre 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.

PlayhouseSquare features two professional, residential but independent theater companies.  The Cleveland Play House, the nation's first professional regional theater company when it was founded in 1915, generally stages plays in the Allen Theatre.  Great Lakes Theater, founded over a half century ago by the "Johnny Appleseed of Shakespeare" and local theater lovers, performs in the Hanna Theatre, with the exception of its annual performance of "A Christmas Carol" in the Ohio Theatre.

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 Hanna 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 Connor 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 reportedly has 32,000 subscribers, as of April 2015, ensuring that Cleveland receives the best of the touring productions with earlier scheduling than most cities.  This reportedly is the largest subscription base for touring Broadway of any city in the country.  Broadway Series productions typically have about a two-week run, but this can be extended to three weeks for more popular productions.  For the 2016-17 season, all Broadway touring shows will have a three-week, 24-show run, making Cleveland one of only a handful of cities in the U.S. with runs of at least three weeks.


Several restaurants serve PlayhouseSquare.

Otto Moser's, an historic deli, is located inside the main PlayhouseSquare complex.

The Hofbrauhaus Cleveland, associated with the famed Munich-based Hofbrauhaus, is the fifth Hofbrauhaus in the U.S., and features a 450-seat beer hall, and a 1,000-seat beer garden.

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 2014 A-list of the 100 best restaurants in Greater Cleveland.

Cibreo Italian Kitchen is located directly across Euclid Ave. from the Palace Theatre.  The District is at 1350 Euclid Ave., with an entrance off East 14th St., across from the Hanna Theatre.  Cibreo and District also are on the PD's 2014 A-list.

The Encore is the Wyndham's restaurant.

Dynomite Burgers, another Zach Bruell restaurant, offers sandwiches for less than $10, featuring specialty burgers offered at four of Bruell's acclaimed Cleveland restaurants, including L'Albatros, a top-rated Cleveland 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.

Phuel Cafe on East 14th St. is open for breakfast until 8 p.m. most days.

For those who would just like a grass-fed burger, wings, shakes, etc., a Burgers2Beer is located on the south side of Euclid Ave. between E. 18th and East 21st Streets, about a 5-minute walk east from the Connor Palace Theatre.  It's part of a small Cleveland chain.

Visitors to PlayhouseSquare also can use Cleveland's free downtown bus trolleys (see "TRANSPORTATION" below) to reach other downtown Cleveland dining districts such as East 4th St. and the Warehouse District.


On weekends in late July and early August, PlayhouseSquare offers "Cinema on the Square."  For $5/ticket, movie lovers enjoy an old-fashioned movie experience in one of the nation's best surviving movie/vaudeville theaters, but shown on the largest non-Imax screen in Ohio. The program includes an organ recital and cartoons, just as in the 1950s and 1960s. 

This cinema event tries to duplicate the movie-going experience in the days before television, when men in suits and women in dresses would jam gigantic movie palaces, especially on hot days when these theaters offered air-conditioned comfort not generally available at home. 

Matinees typically offer kid favorites such as "The Wizard of Oz."  Films shown are classics from the 1930s through 1980s, allowing movie lovers to see their favorites on a big screen.

The annual schedule usually is announced by early July.


PlayhouseSquare has it's own parking garage on the north side of Chester Ave., with one entrance off Chester just east of E. 13th St., and another off East 15th St.  The fee is $15, but only $10 if purchased in advance online or with your tickets.  Note that this garage sometimes is sold out when multiple events are at Playhouse Square, so buying tickets in advance is advisable.  This garage offers enclosed walkways to most PlayhouseSquare theaters, but not to the Hanna Theatre, which is located on a different block..

For the Hanna Theatre, it's best to park in the Hanna Building Parking Garage, located at the corner of East 15th and Prospect, with its entrance off Prospect.  This garage is connected directly to the Hanna Theatre, but this entrance is closed perhaps 15 minutes before curtain time.  PlayhouseSquare doesn't publicize it, but the Hanna garage honors PlayhouseSquare parking passes, including those purchased with subscriptions to the Broadway Series, for plays in the Hanna and East 14th St. theaters.

Here's a map showing the theater district and the location of the garages.

The Hanna garage currently generally charges $10 cash during plays.  It almost always has room on weekends, but parking availability may be more limited on weekdays as the garage has many reserved spaces, which are available on weekends but perhaps not on weekday evenings.  The Hanna garage also is a short walk from Progressive Field and has more usage when baseball games are being played there.

The Hanna garage also is a convenient place to park for plays at the Palace Theatre and even other PlayhouseSquare theaters.  There is an exit gate from the Hanna Garage in the northwest corner of its lowest level.  Visitors to PlayhouseSquare who walk through this gate and across a small surface lot (more expensive, but extremely well located) are directly across the street from the Palace Theatre's Euclid Ave. entrance.

The other big advantage of the Hanna Theatre is that egress almost always is much faster than at the PlayhouseSquare garage.  Not only is the PlayhouseSquare garage much larger and typically with a much higher occupancy rate, but parking garage attendants actually stop traffic to allow those on lower levels to back out and exit the garage before those who parked on higher levels.  This policy may be in effect to reward those who arrive for plays early and to penalize those who especially arrive at the last minute, but I believe it materially slows the process of emptying the garage.  If parked on upper levels, count on a wait of up to 15 minutes to exit the garage.

There is $5 parking in some surface lots on Prospect Ave., located across from the Hanna garage and east and west of East 15th St.  If a baseball game is being played at Progressive Field, you may find $5 parking only east of East 15th St. on Prospect Ave.  Prospect Ave. surface lots may not have attendants at all times, and therefore perhaps might have less security.

Another parking option exists for those who, prior to a PlayhouseSquare event, want to explore downtown (e.g., Soldiers & Sailors Monument, Terminal Tower observation deck on weekend afternoons, The Arcade; see "Cleveland Tips" travel article linked below), visit the Horseshoe Casino, or dine in the Warehouse District or on East 4th St.  This option is to park in the large surface lots just west of Public Square between Superior and Frankfort Ave.  These lots are $10 on weekends and perhaps after certain hours on weekdays.  The rate at Public Square lots may be higher if special events are taking place downtown, such as games at Progressive Field or Quicken Loans Arena.

The free downtown C-line bus trolley runs from Public Square (in front of the Horseshoe Casino) to PlayhouseSquare, with stops near East 4th St. and in the Warehouse District, on weekends until 11 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays (the free E-line bus trolley travels between Public Square and PlayhouseSquare prior to 7 p.m.).  See TRANSPORTATION discussion below.


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.  PlayhouseSquare visitors can use the free bus trolleys to reach the Warehouse District or East 4th St. for dining options there.  Westbound (towards Public Square, the Horseshoe Casino and these two dining and entertainment districts) trolley stops in PlayhouseSquare are located in front of the Hanna Theatre and the Cowell & Hubbard's restaurant near the corner of Euclid Ave. and East 13th St.  The C-line loop is about 20 minutes (with short layovers in front of the Horseshoe Casino) with trolleys running every 10 minutes.  Trolley drivers are trained to answer visitor questions, including where to exit the trolley for any destination.

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.  Student discounts also are offered.


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.