Double the fun with two theaters and varied productions

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (photo: Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith and Associates)
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (photo: Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith and Associates)

The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park is not just one, but two theaters. The original Shelterhouse Theatre celebrated its opening night in 1960 and was followed by the Robert S. Marx theater, which premiered in 1968. The Marx Theater is the larger of the two, seating 626, with the Shelterhouse Theatre being more intimate, seating 225.  In both theaters, patrons are never more than 7-13 rows back from the stage, guaranteeing a great view and up-close appreciation of musicals, dramas and comedies.

Operating two theaters simultaneously allows the Playhouse to offer dual productions at the same time, which it does 10 months out of the year. One season comprises 11 productions, performed from September to June. New works like Disgraced, (2016) are integrated with classics like Pride and Prejudice (2014) and regional and world premieres like Native Gardens (2016).

Mix of urban theater in park-like setting

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park

The Playhouse’s location – in the park – sets it apart from other theaters in the region. With the Cincinnati Art Museum nearby, Krohn Conservatory right around the corner and Eden Park right down the hill, attending a show can be accompanied by an extravaganza of culture nearby. Wine pairings and a specialized tasting menu prior to shows also make for a memorable evening. Theaters and various spaces throughout the building are available for rent, making for a unique event surrounded by picturesque parks. 

Top talent & production

Nicholas Carrière and Emily Trask in Shakespeare in Love, 2017, Playhouse in the Park (photo: Mikki Schaffner)
Nicholas Carrière and Emily Trask in Shakespeare in Love, 2017, Playhouse in the Park (photo: Mikki Schaffner)

If you’re looking for professional theater at its best, you’re likely to find it at the Playhouse. Top talent from Broadway shows on a national level graces the stages of the two-time Tony award-winning theater, recognized in 2004 as the best regional theatre and in 2007 for the best revival of a musical (Company, 2006). The actors, set designers and directors are all also sourced from Tony award-winning performances and theaters across the country, and actors are members Actors' Equity Association, cast primarily in New York City, and brought to Cincinnati for specific productions. The Playhouse also brings in prominent talent for lighting and costume design. With more than 50 seasons under its belt, the venue welcomes nearly 200,000 patrons each year to enjoy shows.

Made in Cincinnati

The cast of A Christmas Carol, 2016, Playhouse in the Park (photo: Mikki Schaffner)
The cast of A Christmas Carol, 2016, Playhouse in the Park (photo: Mikki Schaffner)

Sets and costumes are built and developed in-house at the scene and prop shop on Gilbert Avenue in Walnut Hills, which means that by attending a Playhouse show, you are supporting local workers and their livelihoods. Supporting the arts community (and a nonprofit like the Playhouse) is always fantastic, and the Playhouse employs 75 people full-time, year-round – necessary staffing when sets and props are being built at the same time for different productions. Set builds can take over a month, with development and concepting starting eight or more months prior. The perennial favorite production at the Playhouse, A Christmas Carol, features hundreds of costumes, local talent, special effects and a detailed set that has its own ‘guidebook’ of specifications and details.

Fun for all ages

The cast of The Three Musketeers, 2012, Playhouse in the Park (photo: Sandy Underwood)
The cast of The Three Musketeers, 2012, Playhouse in the Park (photo: Sandy Underwood)

The varied stories portrayed masterfully by the Playhouse reflect experiences of all backgrounds and walks of life. Additionally, the theater takes great care to provide family-friendly programming each season, including the aforementioned A Christmas Carol.

When people can’t make it to the Playhouse, the Playhouse comes to them. The Education Outreach department travels to schools for workshops, presentations and productions off-site to expose more than 57,000 students to the arts each year. The Playhouse also offers weekday matinee options for field trips and students.