CLEVELAND — The months are getting closer to when Cleveland’s famed Playhouse Square will open its doors, the marquee will illuminate with lights, and the crowds will be ushered to their seats ahead of much-anticipated live performances.
On Tuesday, Playhouse Square announced that on April 7 at 7:30 p.m. it will release the lineup of KeyBank Broadway Series shows, scheduled to begin in fall 2021.
“Cleveland audiences are always eager for this annual announcement, which usually coincides with a live event in our theaters for our season ticket holders and donors,” said Playhouse Square president & CEO Gina Vernaci. “While we wish we could share this news in person, preparing for our virtual broadcast fills us with hope and anticipation for audiences to experience the magic of Broadway they love so much.”
Brian Giebel, the general manager of 1 of 5 Driftwood Restaurants in the theatre district, said every hospitality business near the theatre relies on Playhouse Square's audiences to bring in their own crowd.
"From 5:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., every bar and restaurant, not just ours, in this district is packed," he said. "Playhouse Square is much like the Indians or the Browns or the Cavaliers offers. It has that draw."
Driftwood's 5 restaurants have stayed closed since the theatre shut its doors. But as the fall lineup falls into place, those restaurants are slowly reopening, too. The first to reopen is Republic, just steps away from Playhouse Square.
"To open something, now, this is an experiment to see when we open what happens," said Giebel.
Nano Rached, the owner of Sitoo's Pita and Salad at Playhouse Square, decided to stick it out during the entirety of the pandemic.
"Some days it was just me and my chef," he said.
Rached opened in March 2019 and said the first year of business was a great success.
"At dinner, people wait in line to eat and then they go to the show next door at Playhouse," he said. "It was beautiful."
But after this past year of struggles, he said he's ready to get the show back on the road.
"People are coming back, working from the office we haven’t seen for so long. We are doing much better now and we are hoping when the Playhouse opens, we are hoping our business goes back to normal," he said. "I wish the fall was tomorrow."
The fall show lineup will be announced during a virtual broadcast on April 7, with details regarding how to watch at a later date.
"Jesus Christ Superstar" and "My Fair Lady," both postponed last spring due to the pandemic, have been rescheduled for 2022. "Jesus Christ Superstar" will return Feb. 2-22, 2022 and "My Fair Lady" will run June 7-26, 2022.
Playhouse Square said guests holding tickets for the original dates will be contacted with further instructions. Protocols for a safe return to the theater will be announced at a later date.