Lavish stage productions. Loving tributes to classic musicals. Emerging talent and seasoned veterans. Concert symphonies and alternative bands. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, may never be New York or Nashville, but PA’s capital still has plenty to offer music lovers of all ages and musical persuasions.
Fans of stage musicals can find excellent performances all over Harrisburg and surrounding areas, from Harrisburg’s own Whitaker Center to Messiah College’s theater department to Lancaster’s Fulton Opera House. Recent and upcoming productions range from Hot Mikado (Messiah) to The Addams Family (Whitaker) to The Wizard of Oz (Fulton).
However, none of those productions can rival the fame and spectacle of Lancaster County’s Sight and Sound Theater. The company’s lavish retellings of Biblical stories utilizes a talented cast, amazing technical tricks, and live animals to create an unforgettable theater experience.
Central PA also boasts an array of classical concerts and events. Harrisburg’s Symphony Orchestra regularly presents three concert series — Youth, POPS and Masterworks — in addition to other special events. This year’s season will round out with Brahms’ Requiem and a tribute to the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, in honor of The Sound of Music’s 50th anniversary. Ballet fans are encouraged to support the Central PA Youth Ballet in its April performance of Cinderella at the Whitaker Center’s Sunoco Performance Theater.
Although the Giant Center in Hershey tends to overshadow other local venues, people looking for a more intimate performance venue can find what they’re looking for at Messiah College or the Whitaker Center. Both locations have proven capable of bringing in popular artists from Ingrid Michaelson to David Crosby without the crushing crowds.
The Whitaker Center’s fall presentation of Sadie and the Hotheads is sure to please both music and television fans alike, as Downton Abbey’s Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley) belts out her best as part of a band whose music defies definition.
Visitors and residents alike would be remiss to overlook the variety of musical offerings available at nearby Messiah College. The Christian liberal arts college boasts a wide array of student and professional performances. Student talent is regularly showcased through coffeehouses, choral concerts and musical ensembles, winter musicals and senior showcases.
In addition, Messiah is committed to providing performance opportunities to popular artists and under-the-radar bands alike. The free Wednesday night concert series B-Sides seeks to introduce students and community members to relatively unknown bands from all genres. The current season advertises styles from electronic to folk, indie rock to French-Brazilian pop.
There is much more to Harrisburg’s entertainment scene than meets the eye. Whether in the city center, local schools or nearby theaters, the perfect performance is just waiting to be discovered.