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By John Vacha
To further the study, appreciation, and celebration of live theater in northeastern Ohio, historian John Vacha's richly illustrated series examines the region's vibrant theatrical companies, past and present.

From Broadway to Cleveland

| Filed under: Cleveland Theater, Regional Interest, Theater Studies
Vacha Book Cover

Built by Daniel R. Hanna as a tribute to his theater-loving father, Marcus Hanna, the Hanna Theatre opened its doors on March 28, 1921, with an adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper starring William Faversham. Billed as a “Broadway-style theater,” the Hanna was located not on Euclid Avenue but around the corner on the side street of East 14th. Its interior decor was opulent, finished in what was described as a combination of Italian Renaissance and Pompeian style, and the stage was described as “large enough . . . to present the best plays offered; but intimate enough to present the quietest comedy or drama to the best advantage.”


The Music Went ’Round and Around

| Filed under: Cleveland Theater, Regional Interest, Theater Studies
Music Book Cover

Spotting a trend in the early 1950s of staging summer theater in the round under tents, Clevelander John L. Price Jr. decided to give it a try. Consulting a local statistician to determine the geographical center of the culturally inclined population, the bull’s-eye fell in Warrensville Heights, a Cleveland suburb that was also the home to Thistledown Race Track. Price opened his Musicarnival there, on the grounds of the race track, with a production of Oklahoma! in the summer of 1954. The Music Went ’Round and Around tells the story of this unique summer theater and of its ebullient founder, John L. Price Jr.


Showtime in Cleveland

| Filed under: Cleveland Theater, Regional Interest, Theater Studies
Showtime Book Cover

This work takes the reader from the city’s first professional theatrical presentation in 1820, through the heyday of vaudeville, to the grand reopening of the newly renovated Allen Theater in 1999 and the return of touring Broadway shows to Cleveland. In 1820 Cleveland was able to draw a visit from a troupe of professional actors. With no theater in which to perform, the troupe made do with Mowrey’s Tavern on Public Square.


Meet Me on Lake Erie, Dearie!

| Filed under: Cleveland Theater, Regional Interest

In the summers of 1936 and 1937, the Great Lakes Exposition was presented in Cleveland, Ohio, along the Lake Erie shore just north of the downtown business area. At the time, Cleveland was America’s sixth largest city. The Exposition was scheduled to commemorate the centennial of Cleveland’s incorporation and was conceived as a way to energize a city hit hard by the Great Depression. In its first summer, the Exposition drew four million visitors and three million more during its second and final season.


This is a theatre archive