Nothing spurs the imagination like an evening at the theatre. While in high school, I participated in the annual school musicals every spring. My husband while we were dating, reintroduced me to my love of the theatre. I encourage you to go support your Loyola peers in their student led theatre productions on campus this year.
Loyola’s student productions take place in the McManus Theatre and the Black Box Theatre located in the DeChiaro College Center on the Evergreen Campus. There are several different student theatre troupes that operate out of Loyola’s theater department such as the Spotlight Players, the Evergreen Players, and the Poisoned Cup Players produce shows throughout the year. Shows are often chosen to complement a university initiative. For example, when a first-year class read Clybourne Park as its Common Text, the play was performed by the Evergreen Players that fall. This invited the Loyola community to engage in further conversations about race and community and invited the university community into the world of live theatre at Loyola. You don’t have to be a fine arts or theatre major to participate, any and all students are welcome to get involved in the productions either on stage or backstage.
One of America’s oldest continuous little theatres since it was established in 1916 is the Vagabond Theatre. They are currently in their 106th season operating in Baltimore. The current location is at 806 South Broadway in Fell’s Point. This was the first theatre to be owned by the Vagabond Players, Inc. since 1923 and after renovations in 2016 it seats 99 people. The Vagabond Players are a volunteer-based, not-for-profit theatre organization which aims to provide a diverse selection of artistically excellent dramatic production for the Baltimore community.
One of my first dates with my husband was attending Arsenic and Old Lace at the Vagabond theatre. He was in this play while in high school, so he wanted me to share in the experience. I had never seen the play before. We thoroughly enjoyed the exaggerated and absurd, dark humor comedy revolving around the Brewster family. When you walk into the small theatre the feeling is intimate because you are so close to the stage. This enables you to see the intricate details of the set designs, costumes, and facial expressions of the actors. The smaller venue allows for an atmosphere of playing a role of the performance itself as a member of the audience. The pandemic shutdown the theatre but they are reopening in January of 2022 with this listing of plays including The Fantasticks. The price of tickets were in an affordable range from $10 to $22 per person depending on the day of the week.
The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (CSC) is a medium size theatre seating 266 and located 7 South Calvert Street in Baltimore. They began as a company in 2002 in Howard County with an indoor and outdoor venue but out grew their space over the years. In 2011 CSC began a strategic plan to find and create an indoor space that would complement their aesthetics and values of Shakespeare’s realm. In 2014 they opened on Calvert Street in an old Victorian building. Three years later they opened The Studio in the adjacent building on Redwood Street. This became the home for their acting courses and workshops for adults and youth. The Studio allows for rehearsals while performances are taking place in the theatre. With support from local foundations and the state and city governments, they were able to link the two buildings with a pedestrian bridge to create a Cultural Campus for both performance and education of the arts.
A couple of years ago, my husband and I attended the annual production of A Christmas Carol, set in 19th century at the Baltimore theatre location. The seats are in a U shape surrounding the stage that protrudes out from the main stage. The seats are a very comfortable red velvet material with three tiers of seating surrounding the stage. We were seated in the first tier of seats with a wonderful view of all the performers. From my vantage point, all the seats looked as though everyone had a great view of the stage. We enjoyed the show so much that the next year we gave my supervisor tickets for the show as a Christmas gift. The price of the tickets were in the range of $40 to $60 per person.
The Hippodrome Theatre is the largest theatre in Baltimore seating 3000. It was constructed on Eutaw Street (where it remains today) on the site of the Eutaw House, a luxury hotel built in 1835. The Hippodrome opened in 1914 as a movie palace that also showcased vaudeville performances. New management installed a huge marquee in 1931 and new seats. The price levels were 25 cents before noon, 35 cents between noon and 6 pm, and 50 cents after 6 pm. The Hippodrome gained a notable reputation as a top vaudeville house which attracted big names like Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Red Skelton, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, and many others. Unfortunately, they closed their doors in 1990 as the last operating movie theatre in downtown Baltimore.
The Hippodrome reopened with a stunning renovation in 2004 as the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center with 2248 seating. They continue to provide world class entertainment including Broadway shows and the best of the performing arts to downtown Baltimore area. We have been to see the performances of Wicked and The Lion King with our adult children. The seating are in two tiers of a lower level and the second level and six balcony boxes with all seats facing the stage. The décor remains in the historical and luxurious feel of theatres of long ago. The ticket prices have gone up quite a bit since 1931, with seats beginning at $100 and up depending on the show and day of the performance.
There’s nothing like a live performance of singing and dancing to take you to a new experience. Due to Covid many performers, set designers, lighting, sound, etc. lost their livelihoods and their passions in providing us entertainment. We are excited to reenter into our local Baltimore theatres and support the arts as soon as they open their doors to us.