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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.

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 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: In person performances at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts are temporarily on hold. Learn how to engage with the Kimmel Center and its resident companies online by clicking here.

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.

  • Upcoming performances: Performances at the Walnut Street Theatre resume in September 2021 with Rocky, the Musical. To learn more, click here.

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.

  • Upcoming performances: Arden Theatre Company’s spring season has moved online, featuring 74 SECONDS…TO JUDGMENT: A Radio Play by Kash Goins (available March 18-25), NO CHILD… by Nilaja Sun (available April 27-May 9) and more.

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: The Pennsylvania Ballet’s spring season begins March 25 in an all-digital format, featuring newly filmed productions that create an immersive online viewing experience. The season, which honors Pennsylvania Ballet founder Barbara Weisberger, features fourteen performances and concludes with three world premieres.

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.

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: Tickets are available now for the Philly POPS’ 2021-22 season, Lights Up! Showtime!, which will feature concerts in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall, including Sinatra: A Man and His Hat in September and S’Wonderful! S’Gershwin! in April of 2022.

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: Due to current Philadelphia health and safety guidelines, many upcoming performances at The Met Philadelphia have been postponed. For the latest updates, consult the Met’s events calendar.

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: The Philadelphia Theatre Company’s 2020-21 season is available in a Pay What You Can format and featuring a series of musicals and plays presented in a virtual fashion on YouTube.

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: The Curtis Institute of Music presents digital performances, including student recitals and ensembles, online via its Facebook page. For the latest calendar of performances, click here.

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