Northeast Ohio is full of promising warm weather activities from live music inside and outdoors to blockbuster movies, zoo events, ballet performances, train excursions, plays and more.
Here are some summer best bets from a few Beacon Journal writers.
Symphony, dance, theater
Summer’s the ideal time to take in some classical music, dance or theater under the stars in the Akron area.
• Ushering in a variety of outdoor performances is the Blossom Music Festival, preceded as usual by the patriotic “A Salute to America” concerts by the Blossom Music Festival Band July 3-4 at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls. The festival opens July 5, featuring the Cleveland Orchestra performing Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
The season runs through Aug. 31, with performances ranging from Yo-Yo Ma reprising the Elgar Cello Concerto Aug. 16 to the pops A Beatles Tribute — 50 Years in the U.S. Aug. 24. For performance or ticket information, call 216-231-1111 or see www.clevelandorchestra.com. Under-18 audience members are admitted free with an adult.
• In Akron, the beloved Ohio Shakespeare Festival will open its summer season July 3 at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens lagoon, 714 N. Portage Path. Twelfth Night will run July 3-20 and Henry IV, Part I will run July 21-Aug. 17. See www.ohioshakespeare.com or call 330-673-8761.
• Another option for open-air theater in an idyllic setting is Porthouse Theatre in Cuyahoga Falls, which will produce three summer musicals on the grounds of Blossom Music Center. The season opens June 12 with an intimate, two-piano version of My Fair Lady, running through June 28. Next comes the adventure fantasy Starmites July 3-19 and the musical classic Oliver! July 24 to Aug. 10. Call 330-672-3884 or see www.porthousetheatre.com for more information.
• Finally, the outdoor Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival — a 41-year Akron tradition — will feature three dance troupes in July and August. The free festival will begin July 18-19 with Ballet Hispanico of New York at Goodyear Metro Park, followed by Neos Dance Theatre of Massillon at Hardesty Park July 25-26.
At Glendale Cemetery Aug. 1-2, GroundWorks Dance Theater of Cleveland will perform David Shimotakahara’s new dance set to Ghost Opera by Tan Dun. The work, which combines influences from Western and Eastern music, celebrates the cemetery’s 175th anniversary.
The final week will be a collaborative project among the festival, the University of Akron, and James Sewell of James Sewell Ballet of Minneapolis, who will create a world premiere dance for the Akron festival. The collective, called Destination Dance Project, will include four regional professional dancers as well as four James Sewell Ballet dancers performing August 8-9 at Firestone Park.
For more information, see http://akrondancefestival.org.
— Kerry Clawson
Out and about
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, you may want to start at a library or the Akron Zoo or maybe the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Area library districts including the Akron-Summit County Main Library and its branches have programs for babies to graying adults throughout the summer.
For instance, you can join a crafting club and meet other crafters. The library will provide basic supplies or you can bring your own. There’s everything from Zumba to computer training. Or maybe you just want to get out of the heat this summer and watch a movie.
• Of course the Akron Zoo has events galore for the kids, but what about enjoying a brewski among the lions and bears?
If you remember Cyndi Lauper, Guns N’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen and the Beastie Boys, than you are not going to want to miss this Brew at the Zoo as the zoo takes you back to a great decade and spins some of your favorite records. Enjoy some of the area’s best summer ales. Rock out to music by “the ultimate ’80s dance band,” Big ’80’s.
Enjoy a casual beer tasting from local breweries as you stroll through the zoo. Admission is $23 for nonmembers. Tastings are included and full-size beers will be available for purchase at $4 each. Additional tasting cards are $10. Listen to music and check out the animal exhibits at this special after-hours party. Guests must be at least 21. Limited tickets available so make your reservations now.
There are multiple dates. To find one that will work for you, or plan a cool trip to the zoo with the kids, visit www.akronzoo.org.
• How about a train ride with a special treat?
Enjoy a five-course brunch while traveling through Cuyahoga Valley National Park in one of Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s deluxe dining cars, the Lone Star.
The brunch, which is $38 for adults and $18 for kids, is catered by Creekside Restaurant of Brecksville and offered during continuous round trips.
For more information about this excursion or other train trips, visit www.cvsr.com/tours-and-pricing
• Music in the Valley Folk Music & Wine Festival is back from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 12-13 at Hale Farm & Village in Bath Township.
Keeping with its partnership with Folknet, this will be the 39th event.
Enjoy homegrown music by local musicians and Ohio-made wine and food. Bring a chair, bring your family and make a day of listening to music throughout the grounds at Hale Farm & Village. The craft and trade demonstrations at Hale Farm will continue as the folk music of the festival plays in the background.
Of course, the Western Reserve Historical Society has many events throughout the summer. To get more information, visit www.wrhs.org/calendar/calendar.aspx.
• The Gay Games, an international sporting and cultural event held every four years, is coming to Akron and Cleveland from Aug. 9 to 16. The Games invite participation from all athletes, 18 and over —regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political beliefs, athletic or artistic ability, age, physical challenge or health status.
In addition to the sporting competitions, 2014 Gay Games will host live concerts, theme parties and exhibitions, and Festival Village where athletes, community members, families and other visitors can enjoy time together. Special events will be hosted at theaters, art galleries, museums, attractions, nightclubs, and restaurants in both Akron and Cleveland.
For more information, visit www.gg9cle.com.
• South of here, you’ll find plenty to do in Amish Country. To find out more, visit http://amishcountryevents.com.
— Kim Hone McMahan
Don’t forget the movies. There’s nothing like an air-conditioned theater to cool off in during a summer heatwave. Following are some new movie releases worth checking out.
• Maleficent (May 30). Angelina Jolie gets really wicked as the fairy from Sleeping Beauty.
• The Fault in Our Stars (June 6). This faithful adaptation of John Green’s mega-hit novel about love between two young people with cancer histories (Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort) has already generated a lot of enthusiasm, including 3,000 people showing up for a Cleveland event with the cast and Green.
• Edge of Tomorrow (June 6). Tom Cruise and a fantasy story works worldwide; Oblivion underwhelmed at the U.S. box office but was an overseas smash. So in this movie he battles aliens while caught in a time loop taking him back to the same point (but with added insights) every time the aliens kill him.
• 22 Jump Street (June 13). Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are undercover again, this time in a local college. Tatum will also be in multiplexes July 18 in the science-fiction adventure Jupiter Ascending, starring Mila Kunis.
• Think Like a Man Too (June 20). The sequel to the 2012 hit inspired by former Clevelander Steve Harvey’s best-seller, the new feature moves the characters to Las Vegas — and continues the big-screen ride by Kevin Hart (Ride Along, About Last Night).
• Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27). The latest installment in the big, loud and multi-billions-grossing series bring in a new cast led by Mark Wahlberg.
• Tammy (July 2), Melissa McCarthy plays a woman on a road trip with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon). McCarthy co-wrote it with her husband, Ben Falcone, who directs.
• Boyhood (July 11). Director Richard Linklater spent more than a decade shooting scenes for this movie, so we could see its titular boy — and actors Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette — age naturally over the course of the story.
• Get On Up (Aug. 1). Chadwick Boseman (42, Draft Day) plays the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, in this biopic. In fact, it’s a musical-bio summer, including this, Outkast’s Andre Benjamin as Jimi Hendrix in Jimi: All Is By My Side (directed by 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley; date TBA) and the Four Seasons saga Jersey Boys (directed by Clint Eastwood; June 20).
• Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug. 1). Another gang of Marvel characters — though not the big names you’re used to — takes to the big screen.
— Rich Heldenfels
For live music lovers, summer means there will be even more area venues for your favorite artists to play as they crisscross the country making music and shaking the money tree.
Music fans with varied tastes will have plenty to do this summer. Here is a sampling:
• EDM star Skrillex will wow dance music fans with his computer-generated brand of bro-step and digital beats, squawks, squeaks and squeals on May 27 at Cleveland’s Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica (www.livenation.com).
• Country music fans should probably just set up in Cuyahoga Falls’ Blossom Music Center’s parking lot as the venue’s line-up is loaded with popular country acts including superstars Tim McGraw on June 8 and hunky hit-maker Luke Bryan on Aug. 21 and 22. Another hunky hit-maker, Dierks Bentley touring with Chris Young and Chase Rice, will close out the Blossom pop season on Sept. 26.
• The lifestyle philosophy encompassed by Jimmy Buffet and his signature song Margaritaville will hang out at Blossom on June 24 (www.theblossommusiccenter.com).
• Jazz fans should enjoy the two-day 2014 Tri-C JazzFest, which will include a double bill of native New Orleanian Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue alongside veteran fusion/jazz guitarist John Scofield’s Uberjam on June 27 at PlayhouseSquare’s Palace Theatre in Cleveland. Also performing at the JazzFest will be Dave Holland Prism featuring former Miles Davis band member and celebrated composer/bassist/bandleader Holland and guitarist Kevin Eubanks, drummer Eric Harland and pianist Craig Taborn. They will perform on June 28 at the Ohio Theatre (www.playhousesquare.org or call 216-241-6000).
• Soulful pop star Bruno Mars will bring his Moonshine Jungle tour to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on June 28 (888-894-9424, www.theqarena.com).
• Hip-hop will make a rare appearance at Blossom on Aug. 8, when the Under the Influence tour comes to the venue featuring native Pittsburgher and “Black and Yellow” emcee Wiz Khalifa along with a gaggle of other rappers including Tyga, Jeezy, Ty Dolla $ign, Rich Homie Quan, Iamsu! and DJ Drama.
• Also at Blossom will be 1980s/’90s arena metal-men Motley Crue, who will be bidding farewell to active band duty. They will be with Alice Cooper on Aug. 12.
• Rock hall of famers Rod Stewart and Carlos Santana are also teaming up for a tour that will stop at Quicken Loans Arena on Aug. 17.
• Pop singer Katy Perry brings her colorful Prismatic World Tour to the Quicken Loans Arena on Aug. 15, and a little Akron band called the Black Keys will return to Quicken Loans on Sept. 6.
— Malcolm Abram