A Night on the Town

Local Venues and Performers Offer Alternatives to the Movie Multi-Plex

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By Chris Watson

With summer waning and cooler, wetter, and windier weather just around the corner, many of us begin to wonder “what is there to do?” After all, our community is so filled with outdoor activities, including festivals, outdoor downtown association evenings, food truck gatherings, and incredible Metroparks, what can possibly sustain us until next spring?

It turns out that for all of the amazing outdoor activities that we can support locally there is a healthy amount of indoor activities that merit our attention. Whether you are looking for a way to break up your routine, are tired of movie multiplexes, or want to impress on date night, our region has some special venues to help mix up a Friday night. Historic movie palaces, community theater, and professional music and dance dot our entertainment landscape. Whether looking for a deep cultural experience or a light night of comedy, our local venues and talent are producing memorable evenings out!

The Valentine

The Valentine may be the area’s most iconic, and certainly luckiest, venues. Surviving a blast from the apartments next door in November of 2007, this 120 year old facility has been a staple of public performance for…basically…forever. The venue, which seats around 900, has such a diverse listing of events it is hard to cover them all. They host quite a few national tours in a setting that is intimate, inviting, and charming. There may be bad seats in the house, but we haven’t found many. Don’t be deceived by their national tours, The Valentine plays host to a huge variety of local and regional performances and performing groups that showcase fantastic local talent. Any look through their calendar is sure to inspire a night on the town. Plus, you have access to a big range of downtown restaurants (check out Table Forty 4, Manhattan’s, Durty Bird, Georgio’s, Michael’s Bar and Grill, Packos in the Park, and Kyota Ka to name a few)

Toledo Symphony

Toledo Ballet

TAPA (Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts)

Now in its 75thseason and sporting a new music director, the Toledo Symphony is one of the solid platforms for which our regions cultural landscape. It is composed of professional musician and teachers who work incredibly hard to bring our region great music and play host to amazing touring musicians. Their programs have incredible diversity and range from the playful to the artfully sublime. Their home venue is The Peristyle, which in of itself is worth going to see.

We all know The Nutcracker, of course. However, there is a lot more to ballet than the Nutcracker’s cute mice and iconic soldiers. The Toledo Ballet is the place to experience it. Besides performances, the Toledo Ballet has throughout its 75 year history provided top quality classes and instruction.

Finally, in September of 2018 the symphony and ballet teamed up to form the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts. Although already closely aligned, this solidifies a long standing relationship between the two organizations, helping ensure these organizations will be bringing live entertainment to our region for another 75 years.

Toledo Opera

Opera is like sushi…you have to at least TRY it once. Only then can you truly judge whether or not it will move your soul. And trying opera with the Toledo Opera is easy. Now in its 60thseason the Toledo Opera has a varied and interesting list of upcoming productions. They also are bringing their amazing talents to our students via a program called Opera on Wheels. Operas come complete with teachers guides, meet state standards…oh who cares. How cool is it for a kid to get to go to an opera!

The Village Players

With a full season just getting under way, The Village Players has a 62 year history as a non-profit community theater. It is an amazing organization that is consistently producing plays and musicals. Like all community theater, they are heavily reliant of volunteers to run the entire show (pun implied). Unlike many community theaters, they accept suggestions from the public that are submitted to a play reading committee. Their facility on Upton Ave is a cozy, perfectly suited facility for a relaxed evening out. Tickets are affordable. If you are making The Village Players a date night don’t forget that their facility is close the Monroe Street corridor, where dozens of tasty local restaurants are more than happy to provide a pre-show dinner (Mancy’s, The Beruit, Jo-Jo’s Original Pizza, Golden Koi, El Camino Real, Jing Chuan, Shorty’s BBQ, and Poco Piatti…this list is just an appetizer of what is available in the vicinity of Upton)

The Ritz (Tiffin OH)

No one would, intuitively, label downtown Tiffin a cultural mecca. We should. The Ritz, originally a silent movie house and now a full theater and function space, is a great way to take a road trip without really going that far. Home of The Ritz Players, this long-standing community theater company has productions dating back to 1983. Besides plays, The Ritz hosts local and regional musicians, national acts in an intimate setting, and of course, movies. This place is totally worth the drive!

Maumee Indoor Theater (Maumee)

Sundance Drive In (Oregon)

Paramount Cinema (Fremont)

Together these three venues form Great Eastern Theatres. All three of these places are just old school. Maumee Indoor and Paramount are classic and restored movie houses. Sure, the movies are late in their first run and yes, they don’t have movies running every 15 minutes but who cares? We truly believe that the popcorn and candy taste better in these theaters. And a drive in?!? The BEST! {Sundance is seasonal} Forget about going to a boring, nationally run multiplex and shuffle through a line like you are waiting at the DMV. These movie houses are different enough to turn a movie into an event! In this case, it is less about the movie and more about the venue. Young Guy Date Hint: Taking a girl to one of these theaters shows initiative and thoughtfulness. It will impress her folks too.

Waterville Playshop

Founded in 1951 with a focus on quality family entertainment, the Waterville Playshop strives to bring education about live performance and give opportunities for participation in live theatre. Their volunteer membership looks to provide a great environment to the entire spectrum of performers and crew necessary to put on a show, including actors, singers, dancers, production, designers, and musical accompaniment. They have 3 musicals on the 2018/2019 schedule.

Black Swamp Players

Started in 1968 and located in BG, if you have the bug to try theater this is another great option. It is also another way to go to a musical and not spend a pay check to get in the door. Performances are right off the 75 exit and the First United Methodist Church. Even in the shadow of The Collage of Musical Arts and BG, these community players take the spotlight 3 times a year. As with all community theater, volunteers are welcome!

Cover Photo by Pixabay