The Allen Theatre
Completed in 1921 by C. Howard Crane
Cleveland Play House, the regional theater company currently performing in the Allen Theatre, recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. It was a big enough deal that NPR did a segment on the celebrations on All Things Considered. And good on them to take note: CPH is a formidable and criminally underrated force in American theater, and Playhouse Square, the stretch of Euclid Avenue it calls home, is the largest performing arts center in the nation outside New York (howdaya like them apples, Chicago?).
We could have picked any of the Playhouse Square theaters for this list -- a special shout-out to the recently renovated State Theatre -- but the Allen Theatre won us over for its history as well as its appearance. It started its life as a grand silent movie theater with over 3,000 seats. It re-opened in the late '90s to host grand Broadway productions, then re-re-invented itself in 2011 as a home to two small, intimate theaters, the Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre, and the Outcalt Theatre.
Dressed in wine-and-gold (go Cavs!), the Reinberger Rotunda is a near-exact replica of the inside of the Villa Madama, a Renaissance-era rural home in Italy. Sixteen Corinthian columns lead your eyes upward to a ceiling adorned with -- what else would you expect from Italian art? -- mythical Roman creatures and half-naked ladies with robes and vases.
Be sure to practice your dramatic line delivery while standing there -- the rotunda gives all who speak inside it a pleasing and reverberating echo. Here’s to another 100 years of great CPH theater at the Allen.
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Billy Hallal has always loved the Cleveland skyline for both of its buildings. You can watch him struggle with social media @HillyBallal.