On the Cincy Stage: Explore Cincy’s spectacular performing arts venues
Going out on the town for some live entertainment? The Cincy Region is full of arts venues–from grand stages and arenas to smaller and more intimate theaters. If you love the theater, the ballet, or live music, odds are you'll be heading to one of these memorable venues.
It’s evening in downtown Cincinnati. It doesn’t matter whether you're among the tall buildings in the Central Business District or hanging out in the historic Italianate homes of Over-the-Rhine, the excitement is still the same. As the sun sets, both neighborhoods begin to buzz with anticipation of the night to come, and the streets come to life. After much hemming and hawing, you finally make the difficult decision and decide on a restaurant. Dinner is splendid. The company is charming. The tickets are in your pocket as you leave the restaurant just in time for your performance.
Wicked at Aronoff Center for the Arts (photo: Joan Marcus)
Chances are good that you may be heading to one of the performance spaces managed by the Cincinnati Arts Association (CAA), which oversees the programming and management of the Aronoff Center for the Arts, Music Hall, and the Weston Art Gallery. Founded in 1992, CAA is a not-for-profit organization that supports performing and visual arts. It serves upwards of 600,000 people in its venues with a diverse schedule of presented events provided by the work of more than one dozen resident companies. To put it simply, CAA plays a fundamental role in keeping Cincinnati's arts scene unique and vibrant.
Aronoff Center for the Arts
Aronoff Center for the Arts, Procter and Gamble Hall (photo: Cincinnati Arts Association)
If you are in the Central Business District, you’re probably headed to Aronoff Center for the Arts, or as Cincinnatians call it simply, The Aronoff. Its namesake, Senator Stanley Aronoff, had a vision for a Mecca of performing arts in the urban core of his hometown, which was brought to life by internationally renowned architect Cesar Pelli. As you walk down the block, The Aronoff comes into view. Dramatic glass, stainless steel, and red brick seem to encompass an entire city block along Seventh Street between Walnut and Main Streets. A tingle runs down your spine as you cross under the marquee and enter the theater, soaking in the electric pre-show atmosphere.
The Aronoff consists of three separate performance spaces. The main Procter & Gamble Hall seats 2,700 and hosts the Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Music Theatre, Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative, and Contemporary Dance Theater, among others. But perhaps Procter & Gamble Hall is best known for hosting the touring Broadway shows that have enchanted audiences season after season by bringing the most recent and very best that Broadway has to offer to town. The Jarson-Kaplan Theater hosts local theater, smaller concerts, and dance presentations. Finally, Fifth Third Bank Theater provides a stage for more intimate events. No matter the stage, The Aronoff undoubtedly provided a world-class venue for a wonderful evening's entertainment and an unforgettable experience.
Cincinnati Music Hall
Music Hall (photo: Mark Lyons)
If you're in historic Over-the-Rhine, you're headed to the iconic Cincinnati Music Hall. Walking through Over-the-Rhine's Washington Park past the interactive splash fountains, Music Hall comes into view, red brick rising above the trees. Crossing Elm Street, you stop to take in the old-world majesty of a building that was completed in 1878 by architect Samuel Hannaford. Upon entering the building, you marvel at the huge glittering chandeliers, elaborate detailing, all the little musical accents, and the turn-of-the-century ambiance that earned the building a designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1975.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Music Hall (photo: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra)
Soaking in your surroundings, you can see why Music Hall is considered one of the most beautiful concert theaters in the world, and you know a spectacular performance awaits you. Whether that performance is from the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Ballet, or the May Festival, all of them call Music Hall's Springer Auditorium home. Named in honor of founding patron Reuben Springer, Springer is the heart of Music Hall, and it ranks as one of the finest, most acoustically perfect performance venues in the world. It seats 3,516, ranking it as one of the largest permanent concert halls in the United States.
Crafty Supermarket, Music Hall Ballroom (photo: Crafty Supermarket)
Also inside of Music Hall is the Music Hall Ballroom. The Ballroom is the second-largest meeting space in the city, frequently used for large receptions, craft shows, and exhibitions. With annual performances, shows, and exhibitions, Music Hall will continue to delight audiences for many decades to come.
Cincinnati Ensemble Theatre
If you're seeing something more off the beaten bath or eclectic, odds are you're heading to the Ensemble Theatre. Founded in 1986 and located in several historic buildings, the Ensemble produces compelling productions that attract a diverse audience of 30,000+. Not only is the cozy theater a performing arts space, but it also serves its community as a meeting space for businesses, workshops, conferences, and even as a wedding venue.