With Lancaster’s proximity to cultural centers like New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, it should come as no surprise that Lancaster has become a little giant of the performing arts scene. Many nationally known directors, designers, and actors work in our local theater community to offer big city quality at small town prices. So take in a show while you are here in 2019!
Starting on the east side of Lancaster County, on Route 30, American Music Theatre is known for its original reviewstyle shows, including this year’s OVATION – Pops Orchestra Experience and their popular “Joy to the World” Christmas Show. In addition, there is always an amazing roster of headliners and touring productions.
Nearby Rainbow Comedy Playhouse has the distinction of being America’s only all-comedy dinner theater. Their laugh-out-loud comedies are guaranteed to make you chuckle, but not blush… well, maybe a little. Shows this year are InLaws, Outlaws and Other Family Matters, Nana Does Vegas, Divorce Southern Style, Funny Money, and their special A Christmas to Remember.
Heading south toward Strasburg is the nationally known Sight & Sound Theatre, the largest faith-based live theatre in the United States. The huge wrap-around stage and jaw-dropping spectacle would make most of Broadway jealous. But the shows are all about faith and inspiration, and the new JESUS continues in 2019, along with the magical Miracle of Christmas.
Over the years, the village of Bird-in-Hand on Route 340 has become a mini-theater destination all its own. The Bird-in-Hand Stage presents Amish-themed shows, and premieres Stolen, a “musical whodunit” based on stories by Wanda Brunstetter. For the holidays, enjoy A Bird-in- Hand Christmas to Remember, set in Paradise, PA. Sharing the stage on other dates are shows by illusionist Brett Myers, who mystifies audiences with two family friendly shows, Magic and Wonder IMAGINE and A Magical Merry Christmas.
Just a mile away is Plain & Fancy, known for “Jacob’s Choice,” an experiential presentation shown daily at the Amish Experience. But still relatively unfamiliar to most visitors are the new Magic Lantern Shows. A live showman, music, projected images, and an 1890’s lantern re-create the most popular form of entertainment in America before the movies, with a Patriotic Show in the summer and a Christmas Show for the holidays.
Northern Lancaster is home to the Ephrata Performing Arts Center, with theater-in-the-round style productions that range from edgy shows to classics, such as this year’s Ragtime, Pippin, Evita, and My Fair Lady.
Downtown Lancaster’s true treasure is the Fulton Theatre, on the National Register of Historic Places. Coming in 2019 are Chicago, Once, Sophisticated Ladies, and Mamma Mia, among others. The interior of this historic gem is an added bonus to the acclaimed Broadway-quality shows.
There are other smaller theater companies that make the city their home, such as PRiMA, with concert versions of musicals, like Godspell and Jekyll & Hide, as well as several different cabaretstyle productions this year featuring music of the seventies, Sondheim, and Motown.
And book-ending the county to the west is Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, entertaining audiences with dinner and a show for over three decades. They have quite a season lined up with the musicals Stand By Your Man, Lucky Stiff, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Camelot, Annie, Finding Neverland, Will Rogers Follies, and Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn. Wow!
I hope you’ll sample a little of the amazing range of theater productions we locals can enjoy all year round. And as you leave the theater, don’t be surprised if you end up behind an Amish buggy. Perhaps you’ll stop and buy a shoofly pie. It’s all just part of what makes Amish Country so special!