Live Theater and Dance
Ash Lawn Opera Festival. This long-running festival performs opera and musical theater in English in the historic Paramount Theater on the Downtown Mall. Performances run from the first of July to mid-August, and generally include two major works, a music-at-twilight series, and pre-concert lectures. The 2012 schedule includes The Magic Flute and The Music Man. $37-54. 293-4500.
American Shakespeare Center. Watch the best of the bard and more in the Shenandoah Valley's re-creation of the original Blackfriars Playhouse. In addition to the current series of plays (The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Lion in Winter, and The Merchant of Venice), the fall-winter 2012 schedule will also include Cymbeline and King John. 10 S. Market St., Staunton. $16-42. 540-851-1733.
Four County Players. Now celebrating its 40th season, Four County Players is the oldest continuously operating community theater in Central Virginia. 4CP produces several shows throughout the year and holds a Summer Theater Camp. Upcoming productions include I Love You Because: A Modern Day Musical Love Story and Earl Hamner's The Homecoming. All shows take place in the Barboursville Community Center, 5256 Governor Barbour St. $12-16. 540-832-5355.
Hamner Theater. Nelson County's performing arts center since 2005 offers a season of three to five plays, monthly music, drama, or dance, improv and playwrighting workshops, and an upcoming event called Winery Shakespeare Tour. Located at the Rockfish Valley Community Center off Hwy 151 between Afton and Nellysford at 190 Rockfish School Lane. 434-361-1999
Live Arts. This community theater group offers a range of theater experiences in its custom-built, architecturally distinguished arts complex off the Mall on Water Street. Since 1990, Live Arts has presented over 200 shows ranging from new interpretations of classics to avant garde performance art. A professional staff works with volunteers to produce a full main-stage season, extensive educational programs, and smaller experimental works. Upcoming: the Playwrights' Lab Summer Shorts August 16-19. The 22nd season kicks off with Clybourne Park followed by A Chorus Line. Tickets $20-$25. 123 E. Water St. 977-4177.
Paramount Theater. Between Second and Third streets on the Downtown Mall, this 1931 movie theater has been remade into a first-rate venue for concerts, plays, films, opera, and more. Check their calendar frequently for up-to-date listings of all their offerings. $19-$100. 979-1922
Piedmont Virginia Community College. PVCC mounts main-stage and chamber theater productions during the year, as well as a children's theater series. Dance, theater, music, and free movies are just some of the highlights of their ambitious production calendar. 501 College Drive. 961-5376
Play On! More community theater, this one at the Ix Center. Play On! has been offering comedies, dramas, musicals, and revues since 2006. Their 2012-2013 season opens with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)– the Bard in 90 minutes flat– and in October, the troupe performs the Broadway musical Jekyll & Hyde. Tickets range from $10-$17. Box office 872-0184.
UVA Drama Department. Besides offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in performance and theater design, the UVA Drama Department mounts four main-stage productions each academic year and several additional smaller productions, often student-directed. UVA's theaters include the 600-seat Culbreth, with its proscenium stage, and the flexible Helms Theatre with 160-200 seats. The department closed its 2011-2012 season with Romeo and Juliet. The Heritage Theater Festival usually runs in June, July, and August, but had a truncated season in 2012 because of the construction of the Ruth Caplin Theatre. 109 Culbreth Road. 924-3376.
Bent Theater Improv. Bent Theatre presents live improv comedy at the Play On! Theater and various venues across Virginia– and they'll perform at your event. 466-6235.
Charlottesville doesn't have a permanent one and the closest, seating 450 people, is the Riverside, about an hour away in Fredericksburg. $37-58 includes dinner and the show, which typically runs 2-2.5 hours.This year's lineup includes Phantom, The Sound of Music, and Ain't Misbehavin'. Reservations required. 540-370-4300.
Besides Shakespeare in Barboursville, there is outdoor theater over in Lexington. It's a 60-minute drive to the Theater at Lime Kiln, a place that, while it fell on hard times, has made a comeback with offerings like festivals, concerts, and Shakespeare plays. Tickets range from $12.50-25. 540-463-7088
UVA is building a $13.5 million addition to its drama complex on Culbreth Road. The new Ruth Caplin Theatre will provide a 300-seat, thrust-style theater to complement the proscenium theater and the black box that have long entertained audiences at what's now known as the "Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds." The new structure, honoring a benefactor's screen-writer wife, will also include new dressing rooms, new lobby space, and what promises to be a swanky rooftop terrace.