Revel in the Splendor of Live Entertainment!
While technology makes it possible to view performances of all kinds from the past and from afar, there's absolutely nothing like seeing the magic of a live performance taking place right before your eyes. No matter what type of performance your group is looking for, there's undoubtedly something that fits the bill. Take a journey with us as we explore some of the many live performances and venues that await. No pressing "play" involved.
The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra—the second-oldest orchestra in the country and made up of nearly 100 musicians—is a can't-miss for groups who are appreciative of music of all kinds. Presenting approximately 300 events each year in the historic and highly regarded Powell Hall and throughout the St. Louis region, SLSO's performances cover a variety of genres.
"From orchestral concerts with pieces from the Baroque era to music of today, tribute concerts featuring the music of popular acts from The Beatles to Whitney Houston and more, performances of a variety of film scores, holiday concerts, and collaborations with today's recording artists, the SLSO's versatile programming makes Powell Hall a must-visit destination for groups of all interests," said Marie-Hélène Bernard, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra President and CEO. "A pillar of St. Louis' cultural landscape, the SLSO is known as one of the country's leading music institutions, which in addition to the Grammy Award-winning orchestra, also includes two resident choruses and the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra."
If your groups are searching for live performances rooted in dance, the New York City Ballet, the only resident dance company at Lincoln Center, is an excellent choice. Upon arriving at Jose Robinson Plaza, groups will be greeted with iconic fixtures such as the Revson Fountain before making their way to their seats inside the theater, aptly adorned with many unique works of art created specifically for NYCB.
A company of nearly 100 dancers and a 62-piece orchestra, NYCB is the largest dance company in the country with an active repertory of over 150 works, principally choreographed by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Among the season's upcoming highlights are George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®, The Sleeping Beauty, West Side Story Suite, and Swan Lake. Depending on size and performances, groups could also save on tickets and gain priority seating.
Additional Big Apple fun could be had with a visit to the Metropolitan Opera, which was initially founded back in 1883. Today, the Met presents visitors with performances from some of the greatest talent found worldwide, having been the setting for U.S. premieres of some of the most important operas in the repertory. Each season, more than 800,000 people enjoy one (or several) of the Met's over 200 performances.
For the '22-'23 season, groups could find delight in one of the Met's returning major opera favorites like Aida, La Bohème and Don Giovanni. They could also relish in two of the season's new operas which have plenty of crowd-pleasing potential: The Hours, which is based on the famous novel and movie of the same name starring Tony award winner Kelli O'Hara, Renée Fleming and Joyce DiDonato; and Terence Blanchard's Champion, focusing on young boxer Emile Griffith, who rises from obscurity to become a world champion.
Of course, seeing a Broadway show is an absolute bucket list item for groups interested in seeing live performances. Indulge them with a performance of Wicked—the untold true story of the Witches of Oz. This captivating and well-loved story is full of iconic music and award-winning sets and costumes, along with universal themes of friendship, acceptance and equality woven throughout. It's sure to send groups' spirits soaring to heights they'll never forget.
Because Wicked performs at the largest theater on Broadway, groups of all sizes are easily accommodated. They could expect to find comfortable seats and plenty of legroom, in addition to the potential for photo opportunities around the building, a logo or welcome message on the theater's new digital house board in the lobby, and a look behind the scenes with the show's "Behind the Emerald Curtain" event. From the first electrifying note to the final breathtaking moment, Wicked's story will be one that stays with groups long after their trip.
Groups who are looking for a bit of "madness" will find much to chuckle about at a performance of Shear Madness, an all-ages show at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC that mixes improvisation, audience interaction and a plot that keeps the audience guessing until the final curtain call. What makes this show, which has been enjoyed by over 30,000 groups, especially unique is that it's never the same. Even groups who have seen the show before will enjoy something completely new upon their next visit.
Not only is Shear Madness live ... it's lively! Set in a modern-day DC hairstyling salon, a zany crime is committed and the audience gets to solve it. The latest in local and world news pop up frequently, keeping the show fresh and funny. Audience members are encouraged to interact with the show's suspects to figure out who's guilty, while picking up on the many clues dropped during the performance. Groups will find much of the fun is finding out who among them is the super sleuth, while the show's actors try to wiggle out of being caught. Priority seating and perhaps even a surprise mention in the show are special group perks.
Located in the heart of downtown Orlando's business and arts district, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts offers groups from all walks of life a diverse array of year-round regional, national and international programming—from Broadway and ballet to opera and comedy, and everything in between.
"Diversity and inclusivity are rooted in our DNA, and our team works hard to book and create entertainment that's suitable and appealing for everyone that calls Central Florida home or visits from around the world," said Greg Dotson, Group Sales Manager at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, touching on the Center's newest theater, Steinmetz Hall. "Everyone should experience it. It's regarded as one of the greatest concert halls in the world for its unique features—the ability to transform in shape, seating and size, in addition to reaching an N1 rating, the lowest level at which humans can detect sound. It's a wonderful hall to experience both amplified and unamplified music like never before."
In early 2023, Steinmetz Hall will play host to the Center's Great American Orchestra Series, which Dotson emphasizes is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for groups. Also available to groups are customized experiences, pre-sale opportunities with options for best available seating and transportation accommodations.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor of Groups Today.
This article originally appeared in the Sep/Oct '22 issue of Groups Today.