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Performing Arts in Philadelphia

February 2, 2020

Budget Travel magazine called Philadelphia one of the top Showstopping Theater Cities around the U.S. With the oldest theater in America, since 1809, Philadelphia continues to entertain audiences centuries later with magical musicals, spectacular shows and outstanding orchestras and operas.

A Guide to Onstage Shows in Philadelphia:

Opera Philadelphia

The Love for Three Oranges, the company premiere of Prokofiev's comedic gem, photo courtesy of Opera Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s opera company has been hailed by the New York Times as “one of the most creative and ambitious companies” in the U.S. and by Opera News as establishing itself as “a model for innovation in the classical-music industry.” Opera Philadelphia mixes traditional and new repertoire that engages the public – taking opera out of the opera house and onto the streets, into parks and museums and other interesting venues throughout the city. The season opens each September with a Festival, featuring world and company premieres, partnering with the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

  • Upcoming performances include: Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly,” performed in Italian with English supertitles, April 24-May 3; Festival O, September 17-27.

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Photo by J. Griffin for the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The legendary Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the finest music ensembles in the world with leaders such as Leopold Stokowski, who developed the “Philadelphia Sound,” and Eugene Ormandy, who toured the orchestra in China as global ambassadors. The “Fabulous Philadelphians” continue to break new ground under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 120th season exploring the range, creativity and power of women kicked off with an opening night concert and gala with Audra McDonald.

  • Upcoming performances include: Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations, February 27-29; Porgy and Bess, March 5-7; Carnival of the Animals, March 7; BeethovenNOW: Symphonies 5 & 6; March 12-15; BeethoveNOW: Symphonies 2 & 3, March 19-22; BeethovenNOW: Symphonies 8, 4 & 7, March 27-29.

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

Les Miserables is onstage in Philadelphia March 17-29. Photo by M. Murphy.

The state-of-the-art performance venue, the Kimmel Center is home to the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concerts and also hosts touring Broadway productions and world-renowned artists at historic venues and theaters including the Academy of Music, Merriam Theater and Forrest Theater.

  • Upcoming performances: Shen Yun, February 12 – March 1; The Chieftains: The Irish Goodbye, March 11; Ballet Folclòrico Nacional de México de SILVIA LOZANO, March 12; Cashore Marionettes, March 21; Xanadu: The Musical, March 21.
  • Broadway performances: “Hello Dolly!” through March 1; Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles, March 13-15; Les Miserables, March 17-29.

Walnut Street Theatre

A Woman of No Importance, onstage at Walnut Street Theatre through March 1. Photo by M. Garvin.

Founded in 1809, the Walnut Street Theatre is America’s oldest theater and is also the official State Theatre of Pennsylvania and a National Historic Landmark. Walnut Street Theatre produces an exciting season of Broadway-quality musicals and plays, along with its acclaimed WST for Kids series and Independence Studio on 3 season.

  • Onstage: “A Woman of No Importance,” classic comedy of manners by Oscar Wilde, through March 1; “The Best Man,” by Gore Vidal, March 10-April 26; “The Bodyguard,” May 12-July 12.

Arden Theatre Company

Danielle Leneé in My General Tubman, onstage at Arden Theatre Company through March 15. Photo by Ashley Smith, Wide Eyed Studios.

Since 1988, Arden Theatre Company, a professional theatre in Old City, brings to life great stories by great storytellers. Productions include classics, new works, musicals and children’s theatre.

  • Onstage: “My General Tubman,” through March 15; A Streetcar Named Desire, March 12-April 12.

Pennsylvania Ballet

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker is a Philadelphia winter holiday staple onstage at the Academy of Music. Photo by A. Iziliaev for Pennsylvania Ballet.

The Pennsylvania Ballet was started in 1963 by George Balanchine protégée, Barbara Weisberger and is considered one of America’s leading ballet companies, performing at the Academy of Music, the oldest opera house in the United States.

  • Upcoming performances: La Bayadère, March 5–15; Suspended in Time, April 2-5; Breathtaking Balanchine, May 7-10.

Annenberg Center

Pilobolus Come to Your Senses photo by C. Duggan, courtesy of Annenberg Center.

Founded in 1971, the Annenberg Center is one of the nation’s foremost urban performing arts centers on the University of Pennsylvania campus and serves as a cultural destination in Philadelphia, offering a broad range of programs in theatre, music and dance.

  • Upcoming performances: #GLASSFEST in honor of Philip Glass, through March 14; Danú St. Patrick’s Day celebration, March 14; Pilobolus, April 16-18; Jarana Beat, May 2; Tania Pérez-Salas Compañía de Danza, May 29-30; MOMIX, June 11-13.

The Philly POPS

Philly POPS Gospel Choir courtesy of the Philly POPS.

The largest standalone pops orchestra in the United States, the Philly POPS is a 65-piece orchestra, under the direction of Todd Ellison, performing at both The Kimmel Center and the Met Philadelphia.

  • Upcoming performances: POPS Rocks Phil Collins: The Music of Genesis and Phil Collins, March 6-8; Disney’s Broadway Hits: Featuring Broadway Stars Live in Concert, April 4-5; Sondheim: A 90th Birthday Celebration, April 17-19; Sinatra: A Man and His Music, May 1-3.

The Met Philadelphia

View from Grand Salle Box Seating courtesy of The Met Philadelphia.

Formerly the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House, The Met Philadelphia was originally built in 1908 by opera impresario Oscar Hammerstein.

  • Upcoming performances: Pee-wee’s Big Adventure 35th Anniversary Tour with Paul Reubens, March 27; Celtic Woman, March 31; Big Gigantic, April 10; Frankie Valli, April 30; Sting, May 1-2; The Temptations, May 16; Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band, June 21.

Philadelphia Theatre Company

Courtesy of Philadelphia Theatre Company.

Founded in 1974, Philadelphia Theatre Company has presented over 150 world and Philadelphia premieres, many of which have moved on to New York and other major cities, helping to earn Philadelphia a national reputation as a hub for new play development. The theater is housed in the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on the Avenue of the Arts.

  • Upcoming performances: “Everything is Wonderful” by Chelsea Marcantel, the story of an Amish couple who struggles to maintain their faith and cling to their way of life when their two sons perish in a terrible accident, through March 8, 2020; “The Wolves” by Sarah Delappe, April 10-May 3, 2020.

Curtis Institute

Curtis Institute of Music photo by D. Swanson.

The renowned, exclusive conservatory, the Curtis Institute trained the likes of Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber and offers student recital series, Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Curtis Opera Theatre, Family Concerts, and more.

  • Upcoming performances: Curtis Opera Theatre presents Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring, March 5-8; Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, April 30-May 3. Biss Plays Beethoven, January 31; Remembering Isaac Stern, April 26.

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