Top 5 Performance Venues to Experience in Boston

Whether a concert, play, opera or dance, any performing arts director knows that the perfect venue can make a performance memorable for both the audience and the performer.

Shubert Theater

For a city with as much history as Boston, it’s no surprise that their theatres have a story behind them as well. Although most of these buildings may be over a century old, their state-of-the-art technology and production services will leave you and your group as speechless as the antique paintings, marble staircase, detailed columns, and crystal chandeliers will. From intimate spaces with the equipment and staff for your group to put on a performance, to some of the most iconic and historical theatres to watch a performance in Boston, the following locations are sure to host a show that will truly transform your group trip experience.

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Break a Leg at Berklee

Berklee Performance Center

Berklee Performance Center. Credit

For student groups wishing to showcase their talent on a historical Boston stage to an applauding crowd, the Berklee Performance Center is the one for them. Now owned and operated by the Berklee College of Music, the 1915 theatre was originally a movie theatre under the name of Fenway Theatre. When the college’s increasing enrollment created the need for expansion and a concert venue, the college bought the theatre and had it completely modernized in time for reopening in 1976. Today the theatre is a crown jewel for the college and the city, and a perfect option for performing art directors. The theatre provides all professional event and production staff needed, including stage and lighting crews, box office staff, security guards, and ushers. The theatre seats up to 1,215 and has one main greenroom and two personal dressing rooms. Performances at this venue are sure to be enjoyable, powerful, and most of all, unforgettable. For information on venues, rental applications, or general questions, visit the Center’s website here.

A Masterpiece Revived

Boston Opera House.

Boston Opera House. Credit

If you’re looking for the traditional Boston theatre experience for you and your group, look no further than the iconic Boston Opera House. With a colored history of its own, throughout its successes and struggles the Boston Opera House has long been a beloved facet of the city’s performing arts scene. Built in 1928, the theatre originally switched between playing feature films and vaudeville shows, which were specialty shows featuring a mixture of comedy, song, and dance. In 1991, however the theatre closed due to money issues and suffered serious deterioration to both the infrastructure and the priceless interior artwork. After extensive renovations to restore the building to its former glory and splendor while modernizing the inner mechanics, the theatre reopened in 2004 and has since been the home to Broadway Across America and the Boston Ballet as well as a prime spot for visiting acts to perform. Currently seating 2,677 without a bad seat in the house, experiencing this building’s magnificence and history in person will be just as entertaining as the show!

The Show’s on at Emerson

 Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre

Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre. credit

Built at the turn of the 20th century, the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre was one of only two performance venues in Boston’s Theatre District at the time. As it was originally intended for opera performances, the theatre was built with incredible acoustics and a grandiose interior. It was however, like many other theatres in its day, used mainly for showing drama, movies, and vaudeville acts. After an attendance drought in the 80s the theatre closed and continued to deteriorate until Emerson College purchased and renovated it. The theatre now seats 1,186, has been modernized with state-of-the-art production technology, and retains the same grandeur of the American Beaux-Arts architecture. The college also supports the Emerson Paramount Center compromised of 3 smaller theatres for groups looking for a more intimate show for their audience: the Robert J. Orchard Stage which seats 590, the Bright Family Screening Room which seats 170, and the Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre which seats 150. Interested student group directors can find out more about venue rentals here.

Royalty of the Theatre District

Wang Theatre

Wang Theatre. Credit

Like the other theaters named on this list, the Boch Center’s two luxurious theaters, the Wang Theatre and the Shubert Theater won’t leave a visitor disappointed. Considered staples in Boston’s Theater District, the Wang is also known as the “Grand Dame” to the Shubert’s “Little Princess”. The two distinct theaters came under the same management in 1996 after the Shubert completed renovations. Similar to the Boston Opera House, the Wang ran movies and hosted vaudeville shows during their heyday but now is the premiere hub for theatre, music, and dance performances. The impressive theatre seats 3,500, sports a stunning fresco ceiling, ornately detailed columns and is home to one of the five largest stages in the country. Equally impressive, the 1,500-seat Shubert originally opened in 1910 to exclusively show Shakespeare plays before it was repurposed for pre-Broadway tryouts. Today the theater hosts a variety of shows and stages many local community arts organization productions.

History Meets Art

For student groups with a passion for creative expression, the Cyclorama, known as “Boston’s Most Unique Venue” will bring your vision to life. Built in 1884, this space has also been heralded as “Boston’s Most Historic Venue”, a sentiment echoed when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. This venue was initially commissioned to house a famous 360-degree painting of the Battle of Gettysburg, a fashion called cycloramas, but when the trend went out of style shortly after construction, the building was converted to an entertainment venue of a different sort. Events such as roller skating, boxing tournaments, horseback riding, and bicycling all took place in the Cyclorama before the Boston Center for the Arts took over management in 1970. Since then the BCA has recognized the special nature of the Cyclorama and is therefore dedicated to tailoring the space to the requests of each individual organization using it. Awing guests with its copper dome and skylight, the Cyclorama is now a highly sought after venue for groups of all variety and talent. Rental information can be found on the BCA’s website.