Amy Brady and Art Falco

Twelve-hundred theater-lovers were in “the room where it happened,” for one of the most memorable events of the year: “Center Stage,” Playhouse Square’s event to benefit arts education.
It doesn’t hurt of course, that the centerpiece of Center Stage is the hottest ticket this town has seen for some time. But beyond the phenomenon that is “Hamilton,” organizers spent two years planning this event with its grand scale and farsighted vision, to be sure patrons were able to enjoy “a revel with some rebels on a hot night.”

While most benefits occur within a relatively closely defined space of attractive entry/cocktail/dining venue (summer fêtes notwithstanding), picture a cocktail party spread across three of the largest theaters in Cleveland. Hundreds of patrons dressed in the requested black, gold and white filled the Connor Palace, Ohio and Allen theater lobbies. These beloved, historic spaces, with their dramatic lighting and elegant decor helped create undeniable electricity surrounding the upcoming production.

As the evening progressed, patrons moved en masse from these grand venues to a lavish dinner under Playhouse Square’s landmark chandelier at Euclid and East 14th. Every tent at the intersection had multiple bars, air conditioning, lovely arrangements in apricot and cream to offset the black and gold table linens, plus a small army of attendants from Driftwood Catering to pour wine, and present a wonderful entree of filet and sea bass.

After dinner, guests were shepherded into the State Theatre joined by another 2,000+ ticket holders for “Hamilton,” a unique and wildly successful Broadway musical filled with energetic rap, hip-hop and inventive numbers. Just three amazing hours later, patrons were invited back outside onto Playhouse Square to watch a fireworks display and enjoy post-theater cocktails, dessert, and live music.

Playhouse Square educational programs support students throughout NE Ohio. Recently the theaters added welcoming “safe spaces” for children on the Autism spectrum and other disorders so they and their families can experience the magic of live theater. Organizers raised an astonishing $800,00 for Playhouse Square education efforts at Center Stage. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RITA KUEBER

Bess and Ronn Richard with Tom and Joanie Adler

Susie and Dean Walker

Caroline Hayes, Charity D’Amato-Crawford and Ali Forbes

Bill and Sarah Robertson with Mary and Gordon Harnett

Diane and John Andrica with Gina Vernaci and Bill Hilyard

Larry Santon and Roe Green with Glenn and Jenny Brown

Dale and Monica Vernon with Dough and Stephenie Spiker