Considered to be one of the top Showstopping Theater Cities around the U.S. according to Budget Travel Magazine with the oldest theater in America built in 1809, Philadelphia continues to entertain audiences centuries later with magical musicals, spectacular shows and outstanding orchestras and operas.
NOTE: The Kimmel Center Cultural Campus and their resident companies (The Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia Ballet, The Philly POPS, PHILADANCO, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and Curtis Institute of Music), require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination for all attendees of public events. Theatre Philadelphia has also announced a proof of vaccine requirement for several of their venues, while others are accepting proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
A Guide to Onstage Shows in 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. In 2020, the opera company launched the Opera Philadelphia Channel, allowing fans to stream performances from home.
Upcoming performances: Opera Philadelphia’s untraditional 2021/2022 season of performances is entertaining audiences at multiple venues and from the comfort of their homes and through in-person performances. The season will also stream new works created for the Opera Philadelphia Channel, including performances that celebrate Philadelphia’s historic pipe organs, an art film of Francis Poulenc’s La voix humaine and the cinematic adaptation of Henze’s El Cimarrón, and more. To learn more about on-stage performances during Opera Philadelphia’s 2021/22 season, click here. For the season’s digital offerings, click here.
Opera Philadelphia’s 2022-2023 season launches in September 2022 with the return of Festival O, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Festival O22 (September 21 – October 2, 2022) includes new productions of Toshio Hosokawa’s The Raven (September 21, 24 & 29, and October 1, 2022) and Gioachino Rossini’s Otello (September 23, 25 & 30, and October 2, 2022), and the World Premiere of David T. Little’s Black Lodge (October 1 & 2, 2022). In a first for Festival O, Opera Philadelphia will also screen a selection of feature-length and short-form opera films on multiple screens at the Philadelphia Film Center and is inviting filmmakers to submit their projects for consideration to be screened alongside classic opera films and recent cinematic works created for the Opera Philadelphia Channel.
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.
Upcoming performances: The Philadelphia Orchestra’s January – June season includes shows such as Saint-Saëns’s “Organ” Symphony (May 19 & 21, 2022). The season will close with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (June 3-5, 2022). The Orchestra will also continue to present works via their Digital Stage, which allows audiences from around the world to enjoy the sound of Philadelphia from the comfort of their homes. To learn more about the 2021-22 season, click here.
The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2022-2023 season starts out strong with Yannick and the Orchestra accompanied by world famous pianist Lang Lang for an Opening Night Celebration (September 28, 2022). Other performances in fall 2022 include Trifonov Returns (September 30 – October 2, 2022), Rachmaninoff’s The Bells (October 6-9, 2022), Hilary Hahn Plays Tchaikovsky (October 13-15, 2022), and Peter and the Wolf (October 15, 2022). Then, Principal Guest Conductor Nathalie Stutzmann brings Mozart’s Requiem (October 20-23, 2022) – left unfinished when he died and one of his greatest works – to life with all of the grandeur Mozart intended. Yannick Conducts Price, Schumann, and Ravel (October 27, 29 & 30, 2022) finishes out October 2022. Shows in November include Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 (November 5 & 6, 2022), Bach and Handel (November 11-13, 2022), and Holst’s The Planets (November 17-19, 2022). Get ready for the holiday season with Home Alone (November 25-27, 2022), as the Orchestra plays John Williams’ Oscar-nominated score from the heartwarming family comedy. Other holiday favorites include Children’s Holiday Spectacular (December 10, 2022), The Muppet Christmas Carol in Concert (December 17 & 18, 2022), and The Glorious Sound of Christmas (December 21-23, 2022). Ring in the New Year with the Orchestra at the New Year’s Eve Celebration (December 31, 2022), then celebrate the Lunar New Year (January 12, 2023). The first half of 2023 is jam-packed with stellar performances including Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (January 19-21, 2023), Rachmaninoff 150 featuring Yuja Wang (January 26 & 27, February 4 & 5, 2023), Shaham Plays Brahms (February 9-11, 2023), Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3 (February 23-25, 2022), and Emanuel Ax Plays Mozart (March 3-5, 2023). Don’t miss Marvel Studios’ Black Panther (March 17-19, 2023), as the Orchestra performs Ludwig Göransson’s Oscar-winning score from the groundbreaking film. Spring shows include Blessed Earth (March 30, April 1 & 2, 2023), Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (April 20 & 22, 2023), Symphonie fantastique (May 11-13, 2023), and many others. To explore the rest of the 2022-2023 season, click here.
The Kimmel Center Cultural Campus
The state-of-the-art performance venue, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts 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, Miller Theater and Forrest Theater.
Upcoming performances: The Kimmel Center Cultural Campus’ 2021/22 Broadway Philadelphia season runs through August 2022 with can’t-miss performances of Hairspray (May 17-22, 2022), Freestyle Love Supreme (June 7-12, 2022), To Kill a Mockingbird (July 12-24, 2022), and Dear Evan Hansen (August 16-28, 2022). The Kimmel Cultural Campus and The Shubert Organization’s 2022-2023 Broadway Philadelphia series kicks off in October 2022 and runs through September 2023. The season starts off with Annie (October 11-16, 2022). Les Misérables (November 2-13, 2022), Tina – The Tina Turner Musical (November 22-December 4, 2022), and Blue Man Group (December 27-31, 2022) round out the year. The season picks back up in 2023 with Jagged Little Pill (January 3-15, 2023), A Soldier’s Play (January 24-February 5, 2023), Come From Away (February 7-12, 2023) and 1776 (February 14-26, 2023). Rolling into the spring are CATS (March 14-19, 2023), SIX (March 21-April 9, 2023), and Jersey Boys (April 18-23, 2023). Other shows include Jesus Christ Superstar (May 2-7, 2023), Beetlejuice (May 30-June 11, 2023), and Moulin Rouge! The Musical (July 5-30, 2023). The season finishes strong with Disney’s The Lion King (August 16-September 3, 2023).
Walnut Street Theatre
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: Now in its 213th season of live entertainment, the Walnut Street Theatre’s ‘Season of Celebration’ concludes with the supernatural and comedic Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit (May 31 – July 3, 2022).
The Walnut Street Theatre’s 2022-2023 Mainstage Shows include ROCKY, the Musical (October 4 – November 6, 2022), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (November 22, 2022 – January 1, 2023), Last of the Red Hot Lovers (January 10 – February 12, 2023), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (February 14 – March 19, 2023), Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville (March 28 – April 30, 2023). To learn more about the 2022-2023 lineup, click here.
Arden Theatre Company
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 2022 season includes School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (May 5 – June 5, 2022) and Into the Woods (June 2 – July 3, 2022). For more information, click here.
Philadelphia Ballet (formerly 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: Philadelphia Ballet’s 2021/2022 season marks the ballet company’s triumphant return to the stage and features live, in-person performances, which began in October 2021. Look for world premieres and all-time classics throughout the season. Philadelphia Ballet is also teaming up with Mural Arts Philadelphia to offer Behind the Stage Door, a series of free, live ballet performances incorporating art during pop-up outdoor performances throughout the city. Behind the Stage Door kicked off April 29, 2022 at Cherry Street Pier with performances set throughout May 2022 at various locations. For more information on the 2021-22 season, click here.
Philadelphia Ballet’s 2022/2023 season will feature 65 performances across six productions, including Cinderella (October 13-23, 2022), George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (December 9-28, 2022), New Works (February 3-11, 2023), The Sleeping Beauty (March 2-12, 2023), Balanchine (March 16-19, 2023), and Coppélia (May 11-14, 2023).
Penn Live Arts (formerly Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts)
Founded in 1971, the Annenberg Center — now Penn Live Arts — 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. Rebranded as Penn Live Arts in 2021, the performing arts presenter seeks to continue the Annenberg Center’s 50-year history of being a multidisciplinary performing arts leader in Philadelphia while also deepening the connection with the University of Pennsylvania and upholding a commitment to presenting innovative national and international artists both inside the Center’s walls and beyond.
Upcoming performances: Beginning what will be a multi-year 50th anniversary celebration, Penn Live Arts’ 2021-2022 season will feature dance companies, a family-friendly cirque series, jazz greats, and innovative works outside of the Center’s walls. Don’t miss Pasquale Grasso & Ari Roland (May 19, 2022) and MOMIX: Alice (June 2-4, 2022), which round out the 2021-2022 season. For a full list of performances, click here.
Continuing its 50th anniversary celebration, Penn Live Arts’ 2022-2023 season kicks off with Community Open House (September 16-17, 2022). Shows in fall 2022 include Blind Boys of Alabama (September 17, 2022), Kardemimmit (September 30, 2022), Machine de Cirque: La Galerie (October 2, 2022), and Pilobolus (October 7-8, 2022). Penn Live Arts’ 50th anniversary season includes major residencies with the Negro Ensemble Company and Rennie Harris Puremovement. As a collaboration with its artist-in-residence, the Negro Ensemble Company presents Our Voices, Our Time: One-Act Play Festival (October 8, 2022) to amplify and celebrate Black voices, stories, and perspectives. Other shows and performances throughout the season include, Pam Tanowitz Dance (October 14-15, 2022), Ballet Hispánico (November 4-5, 2022), Soweto Gospel Choir (November 18, 2022), Dance Theatre of Harlem (January 20-21, 2023), and Paul Taylor Dance Company (April 21-22, 2023). The 2022-2023 season wraps up with Sw!ng Out (June 9-10, 2023), a high-energy show featuring swing dance and tap. To learn more about Penn Live Arts’ 2022-2023 season and for a full list of performances, click here.
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 continues to delight audiences with live, in-person concerts at Verizon Hall in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The Philly POPS and Comcast NBCUniversal present Memorial Salute, the sixth annual free public Memorial Day Concert on May 27, 2022. The event also kicks off the POPS’ popular Salute Series, which includes programs performed on American holidays which recognize those who serve our country, its cities, and communities. The POPS’ season concludes with a performance that will transport audiences to a galaxy far, far away, as the Philly POPS present John Williams’ classic Star Wars scores in Star Wars: A Galaxy of Music (June 17-19, 2022). For the full season overview and to view all upcoming performances, click here.
The Philly POPS’ 2022-2023 season is set to kick off in September 2022 with POPS Rocks The Music of The Moody Blues (September 16-18, 2022). The season continues with Get Up, Stand Up (November 18-20, 2022) and A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season (December 3-17, 2022). In 2023, shows include Ella & Louis Sing Porgy and Bess & More! (February 17-19, 2023), POPS Rocks Paul Simon, James Taylor & Billy Joel (March 24-26, 2023), A Sondheim Celebration (April 21-23, 2023), and lastly POPS Rocks Hollywood: Bohemian Rhapsody, Rock of Ages & Tommy (May 19-21, 2023). For the full 2022-2023 season overview, click here.
The Met Philadelphia
Formerly the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House, The Met Philadelphia was originally built in 1908 by opera impresario Oscar Hammerstein. The grand venue now hosts a variety of local, national and international touring acts, including comedians, solo artists, and chart-topping musical groups.
Upcoming performances: The Met Philadelphia is set to welcome performers such as Ringo Starr (June 19, 2022), Deadmau5 (July 15, 2022), Alicia Keys (August 7, 2022), Lady A (September 15, 2022), Lil Nas X (September 22, 2022), and Chris Rock (September 23-25, 2022). For a full schedule of events at The Met Philadelphia, click here.
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: Looking ahead to fall of 2022, fans can expect to enjoy a full production of the new musical The Tattooed Lady, Philadelphia Theatre Company’s first commission under the leadership of Artistic Director Paige Price.
PHILADANCO! The Philadelphia Dance Company
Celebrated around the world for its innovation, creativity, and preservation of predominantly African American traditions in dance, PHILADANCO! The Philadelphia Dance Company is known for breaking barriers and building bridges across cultural divides. Founded in 1970, the West Philadelphia-based non-profit organization provides one of the most successful dance training programs in the nation, along with captivating performances at the Kimmel Center.
Upcoming performances: For a full list of upcoming performances, click here.
The Curtis Institute of Music
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’s Student Recital Series and Graduation Recitals are back. During Student Recitals, student artists will perform for in-person audiences on Monday and Friday nights throughout the spring. Graduation Recitals give members of the class of 2022 a chance to share their talents with audiences after years of study. The Curtis Institute also presents digital performances, including student recitals and ensembles, online via its Facebook and YouTube pages. For the latest calendar of performances, click here.
For more arts and culture experiences in Philadelphia, click here.
Cover photo: Hairspray. Photo Credit: Chris Bennion and Jeremy Daniel.