Performing Arts in Philadelphia

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. The season opens each September with a Festival, featuring world and company premieres, partnering with the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

  • Upcoming performances include: Verdi’s “Requiem,” performed in Latin, January 31-February 2, 2020; Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly,” performed in Italian with English supertitles, April 24-May 3, 2020.

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: Bach’s Mass in B Minor with German baritone Benjamin Appl, December 5-7; Wynton Marsalis’ Blues Symphony, December 12-14; Christmas Kids’ Spectacular, December 14; Vienna Boys Choir-Christmas in Vienna, December 15; The Glorious Sound of Christmas, December 19-21, Messiah, December 22; New Year’s Eve, December 31; Disney’s Fantasia⁠—Live in Concert, January 3-5, 2020; BeethovenNOW: Yefim Bronfman, January 23-26, 2020; BeethovenNOW: Daniil Trifonov, January 30-February 2, 2020; BeethovenNOW: Emanuel Ax, February 6-8, 2020.

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

Cirque Dreams: Holidaze, onstage at the Kimmel Center December 26-29. Photo courtesy of the Kimmel Center.

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: Wynton Marsalis’ Blues Symphony, December 12-14, Martha Graham Cracker in LASHED BUT NOT LEASHED, December 12; Tuba Christmas Free Concert, December 15; Free Silent Night Sing-In, December 16; New Year’s Day Celebration and Broad Street Bash, January 1, 2020; Three Kings Day, January 4, 2020; DRUMline Live, January 10-11, 2020; Four Rhapsodies – Gershwin & Enescu, January 10, 2020; The Simon & Garfunkel Story, January 29; The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, February 1; Kimmel Center Presents in Partnership with Acting Without Boundaries/Icons: The Power of Difference, February 8; Gregory Porter, February 10; Shen Yun, February 12 – March 1.
  • Broadway performances: “The Spongebob Musical,” through December 15; Cirque Dreams: Holidaze, December 26-29; “The Band’s Visit,” January 7-9; Riverdance 25th Anniversary Tour, January 21-26; “Hello Dolly!” February 18-March 1; Les Miserables, March 17-29.

Walnut Street Theatre

Shrek the Musical at the Walnut Street Theatre, through January 5, 2020. 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: “Shrek the Musical,” based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture and originally produced on Broadway by DreamWorks Theatricals and Neal Street productions, through January 5, 2020; Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the annual classic children’s production, November 30-December 22; “A Woman of No Importance,” classic comedy of manners by Oscar Wilde, January 14-March 1, 2020.

Arden Theatre Company

Katherine Fried as The Snow Queen, onstage at Arden Theatre Company through January 26. 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: “An Iliad” and “Tiny Beautiful Things,” through December 8; “The Snow Queen,” a journey through the four seasons from the classic story by Hans Christian Anderson, November 27-January 26, 2020
  • Upcoming: “My General Tubman,” January 16-March 1, 2020; A Streetcar Named Desire, March 12-April 12.

Pennsylvania Ballet

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker photos 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.

Annenberg Center

Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble photo by J. Downs.

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: Dianne Reeves, December 8; PHILADANCO Xmas Philes, December 12-14; Paul Taylor Dance Company, January 24–25, 2020; MUMMENSCHANZ, February 16, 2020.

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: A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season! an original program featuring the Philly POPS Festival Chorus, The Philadelphia Boys Choir, The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, and organist Peter Richard Conte and special guest – Broadway favorite Mandy Gonzalez from Hamilton fame – with David Charles Abell conducting, December 7-21; Hamlisch: With Love, January 17-19, 2020; Aretha: Respect, February 14-16, 2020.

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: Madonna, December 7-11; Pentatonix, December 15-16; Moscow Ballet, December 19; Femme It Forward presents Monica and Ashanti, January 3, 2020; Greensky Bluegrass, January 18, 2020; Little Big Town, January 30, 2020; Boyz II Men, February 14, 2020.

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, February 14 – 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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