Frederick is one of the best live entertainment destinations in the entire state of Maryland. The city is home to several performance arts companies and hosts artists from around the world in its Downtown Arts and Entertainment District. Many of the city’s theatre venues have been putting on shows for decades and know how to entertain a crowd. Here are five performing arts venues in Frederick that you don’t want to miss.
Weinberg Center for the Arts
Weinberg Center for the Arts is the star of Frederick’s performing arts scene. It was originally known as the Tivoli when it opened in 1926. At the time, it was the second-largest building in Frederick and was considered quite fancy thanks to an orchestra pit, crystal chandeliers, silk wall coverings, and managers dressed in tuxedos.
Today, the Weinberg Center for the Arts hosts Broadway musicals and plays, symphony orchestras, live music events, dance troupes, storytellers, comedians, and other live performances.
Other popular events include the Frederick Speaker series, which brings diverse and interesting speakers to the Frederick area, and classic film screenings. Free events, including performances and backstage tours, are occasionally offered throughout the year.
Patrons with special needs should select accessible seating when getting tickets and speak with the Weinberg Center box office about listening devices and other potential accommodations.
Maryland Ensemble Theatre
Maryland Ensemble Theatre (MET) is a professional theater ensemble of 30+ actors, directors, writers, musicians, technicians, and designers. They produced their first play in 1997 and have since put on more than 50 original plays, comedy skits, children’s shows, and performances with original songs. The collaborative theatre ensemble has also performed classic productions, including Shakespeare plays and popular musicals.
Comedy nights occur every Friday and some Saturdays from October to June, and special events, including improv nights, an annual Retro Prom, and Family Fun Days, happen throughout the year. MET’s Fun Company also has a Family Theatre Series with unique kid-friendly shows.
For those who would prefer to be on the stage, MET offers a range of educational programs, including after-school classes for kids, summer camps and classes for teens, and acting and improv classes for adults. Programs for kids are designed to inspire creativity and build socioemotional skills. Programs for teens and adults are meant to foster imagination, teach theater skills, and train the mind, body, voice, and spirit.
Theatres and classroom spaces at the MET are ADA-compliant. Audio device services are available, and patrons can request ASL-interpreted performances through the MET box office.
New Spire Arts
New Spire Arts is a non-profit performing arts center with a newly designed theatre and community gathering space. It opened in 2019 and has proven to be a great addition to Downtown Frederick’s growing Arts and Entertainment District. New Spire Arts hosts touring artists, musicians, and performers and works with local individuals and organizations to schedule live music and performing arts shows.
Past productions have included live theater shows, film exhibitions, comedy shows, dance performances, and concerts. Performances occur in a 275-seat, state-of-the-art black box theater next to a newly renovated lobby that doubles as a community gathering place. Both spaces can be rented out for events.
Sky Stage is situated in the shell of a pre-Revolutionary War building that was initially used to construct gun parts. The building was damaged by a fire and boarded up before being transformed into a public art installation and amphitheater.
Artist Heather Clark worked with a research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to design and engineer a complex two-story sculpture consisting of living garlands of plants draped around wooden latticework and portions of the building. This sculpture serves as a centerpiece for the amphitheater stage.
The Frederick Arts Council collaborates with individuals and organizations to develop stage programs and community activities for children and adults in the spring, summer, and fall. Sky Stage offerings range from art, history, and environmental education programs to dramatic and musical performances, comedy and improv shows, poetry readings, and children’s story hours.
Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre
Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre is a year-round entertainment venue combining live stage shows with a tasty buffet-style dinner. They have five Broadway-style mainstage productions each year. The performances are a combination of classic and contemporary shows. Past productions have included Cats, Fiddler on the Roof, Monty Python’s Spamalot, and Legally Blonde.
Special events are also held at the theatre throughout the year. Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre is particularly well-known for its popular interactive murder mystery series that allows the audience to play detective. They also host special kid-friendly events, including an Annual Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus (the most popular event each year) and stage adaptations of popular kid’s books and movies. Kids who want to study musical theatre and perform in a full musical production can attend the Summer Theatre Camp, held annually for over 20 years.
While You’re in the Area
With the exception of Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre, these performing arts venues in Frederick, Maryland, are all located in a charming downtown. Check out the area’s delicious dining, unique shopping, and exciting distilleries. Craving a burger? Try this spot.
Lead Photo Credit: Sky Stage
About the Author
Anna Champagne is an outdoor writer, photographer, and traveler. She can often be found gardening and birdwatching in her backyard and exploring creeks, trails, marshes, and parks with her husband. Anna lives in Frederick County, Maryland. You can learn more about her on her website www.champagneoutdoors.com.