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Columbus' Best of 2013 and Top Picks for 2014


2013 brought some of the city's best entertainment to date to Columbus' theater scene. At any given time, you had your pick of several truly dynamite options for quality drama and music right in your backyard. We at BroadwayWorld Columbus are unendlessly thankful for the dynamic and exhilarating production companies that grace Central Ohio and create the vibrant and diverse arts scene in our town. If you haven't paid a visit (or two or three...) to these area theater companies this past year, start planning for 2014 now, as these hotshots are on the forefront of an electrifying new year of local theater!

In no particular order, here are our "Top 10" picks for local theater groups to watch in the coming year:

1) CATCO- A powerhouse of a 2013 for CATCO saw the local premiere of the 2010 Tony Award winner, "Red" (a collaboration with the Columbus Museum of Art), the ever-popular "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", and a sold-out run of "Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits: Volume 1" as highlights, as well as one of the best family entertainment values for local live theater with its CATCO Is Kids programming which turned out audience favorite, "Schoolhouse Rock Live, Jr.". Look for a reprisal of "Forbidden Broadway", "Steel Magnolias", " Always...Patsy Cline", and kid-favorites, "The Cat In the Hat", as well as "Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz" on the 2014 line-up. CATCO should be on your must-see list for this year. ( )

2) Shadowbox Live- There is just no stopping the explosive talent that is the Shadowbox Live ensemble. Shadowbox has embraced its Brewery District location with commanding presence. 2013 Musical productions such as "Spamalot" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" combined with their classic sketch-comedy/rock n' roll shows (next up is "Foreplay" running January 9- March 22), plus a continued partnership with Opera Columbus with a return of "The Merry Widow" (January 11- February 2) make it one of the easiest New Year's Resolutions to follow-through with- get down to Shadowbox Live. ( )

3) Short North Stage- Since its 2011 debut, this fledging "little theater that could" has been ambitiously revitalizing the Short North arts scene, offering an eclectic mix of, "Broadway classics and edgy off-Broadway musicals, to progressive one act plays, cabarets, dance, and everything in between". This season saw local talent fused with NYC imports to produce shows like "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and Sondheim & Lapine's "Sunday In The Park with George" with gusto. Look for upcoming musicals "A Grand Night for Singing"(February 6- March 23), 'The Who's Tommy"(April 10- 29), and the outrageously funny, "The Divine Sister" (May 29-June 15) to sample their exceptional talent. (

4) Available Light Theater- Known for presenting new and original productions, and its incredibly cool "Pay What You Can" ticket policy, AVL is quite possibly the most accessible professional theater company in Columbus, and a delightful find to those who value amazingly good live theater on a budget. With its 2013 season including powerhouse productions, "BobRauschenbergAmerica" and "Dogs of Rwanda", AVL continues its no-holds-barred line-up with "How We Got On" (February 6-22), "We Are Proud to Present" ((March 27- April 12), and the local premier of British hit, "Cock" (May 8-24). On ethics alone, this venue deserves your entertainment dollars, add in the talent and it's a steal. (

5) Pleasure Guild- This year marks its 57th annual production, a feature-event that generates an average yearly contribution of nearly $500,000 to Nationwide Children's Hospital- theater for a great cause. This year's choice, "Shrek" (March 7-9) features several of Columbus' brightest young adult and child performers in a professionally directed production at the Palace Theater. Take the healthy children in your life for a theater experience that they won't soon forget, while helping those children who need the services of Nationwide Children's Hospital. Win-win. (

6) Columbus Children's Theater- Celebrating its' 50th Anniversary year in 2013, CCT offers an entire array of productions geared for young audiences, as well as a full schedule of superb drama and musical classes for children and teens. Check out "Arthur and the Magic Sword" (February 6-23), the musical version of the children's book, " Freckleface Strawberry" (March 6-23), or 'The Wizard of Oz"(April 10-20). You can't go wrong with anything CCT has to offer if want a great show for a younger audience. (

7) Otterbein University- Well known for its outstanding performing arts department and many notable graduates, Otterbein generated outstanding productions earlier this year of "Les Miserables", and "Speed The Plow". Look for upcoming shows, "The Importance of Being Earnest" (March 6-9, 13-15) and the acclaimed "The Full Monty" (April 24-27, May 1-3). (

8) Broadway In Columbus- Let's not forget to be thankful for CAPA, who brings the best of Broadway to Central Ohio each year for the Broadway in Columbus series. This past calendar year saw some fabulous performances, including "Jersey Boys", "Blue Man Group", and "Flashdance". Exciting upcoming shows include, "Phantom of the Opera"(March 5-16), "The Adams Family"(April 8-13), and the first-time through Columbus tour of Broadway blockbuster, "The Book of Mormon" (May 13-25). If you can't get to New York, never fear, CAPA brings NYC to your backyard, minus the taxis and outrageous hotel costs. You're welcome. ( )

9) Shots in the Dark Theater Co.- Started by a high school student in 2007, this pre-professional theater group has tackled local premiere's of "Anne of Green Gables", and "Lindsey's Oyster" with varying degrees of success, but did the extremely ambitious "Next to Normal" justice, and is beginning to find some consistency to match its applaudable spirit. Look for "Descartes ala Mode" (January 10-11 and 17-18) to start your New Year's theater-going off. (

10) Actor's Theater of Columbus- For 32 seasons, this company has breathed life into the Central Ohio live theater scene, with countless numbers of talented performers gracing its stages. Known largely for its summer Schiller Park productions, ATC headed outdoors last summer season with captivating productions of "Twelfth Night" and "The Beaux Stratagem". This summer brings "The Merry Wives of Windsor", "Hamlet", and "The Barber of Seville". Start dreaming of lush green grass, picnics, and classic theater in the park now. ( )

If we've missed your favorite theater company on our list, let us know! Comment below and we'll do our best to add your theater "must see" to our review list for 2014. We'd love get out to check out your picks! Happy 2014 from Columbus' BroadwayWorld!

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From This Author Lisa Norris

Lisa grew up participating in community theater groups such as Cincinnati Young People's Theater (CYPT) in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio, both in front of and behind (read more...)