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Arts & Culture

Top Outdoor Theaters In Philadelphia

June 7, 2013 7:00 AM

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A Penn's Landing concert in 2010.  Credit: Randell E. Scott)

A Penn’s Landing concert in 2010. Credit: Randell E. Scott)

Summertime, with its warmer evenings and longer days, commands that you take some time to just be a human being and breathe. Outdoor theaters give you a chance to combine outdoor time with films and plays. While the most famous is right here in Philly, just a short dive away, you’ll find a few more locations where you can relax, picnic and enjoy some live outdoor entertainment at reasonable fees or even for free.
The Mann Center For Performing Arts
Fairmount Park
5201 Parkside Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19131
(215) 878-0400
www.manncenter.org

“The Mann,” as it is most commonly known, has been holding musical performances for decades in its open air theater. You can find concerts, theater tours, orchestras and even dance troupes here. Because of its unique design, the sound carries throughout the theater, whether you have the best seats in the house or are hanging in the more affordable lawn seats (which generally run about $15 compared to the typical other seats costing $40-80). This summer, the Mann has over 17 performances and concerts scheduled for you to choose from. During “Pixar in Concert with Fireworks,” the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will perform the most beloved Pixar songs, including music from the film “Brave”. But the Disney entertainment doesn’t end there: The Philadelphia Orchestra will put on its famous “Fantasia in Concert” later in the summer. And there will be plenty of other performances, too, including the Jerry Garcia Orchestra, Barenaked Ladies, Belle and Sebastian and others. Philly’s only fully functional open air theater is sure to be full of entertainment all summer long.

Related: Kimmel Center To Offer New Venue For Film Screening

The Shakespeare Theater of NJ
College of Saint Elizabeth
2 Convent Road
Convent Station, NJ 07961
(973) 408-5600
www.shakespearenj.org

Dates: June 18 through July 28 at 8:15 p.m.; twilight performances on Sundays at 4:30 p.m.

This theater company has both and indoor and outdoor stages and is the only theater in area that is dedicated entirely to Shakespeare. If offers 400 seats outdoors in Morris Township and encourages picnics, so sit back and relax while you watch the entertainment. Bring your own (low!) beach chair or blanket, or you can rent a cushion for a small fee. This summer, “As you Like it” will be brought to the outdoor stage during most of June and July.

Summer Concert Series at The Great Plaza
Penn’s Landing
101 S. Columbus Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 928-8801
www.riverrink.com

Kicking off the summer will be the “party with a purpose” POWER 99 “Peace on the Streets” event at the Great Plaza. This free event will be held on June 27 from 3-8 p.m. All summer, the Great Plaza will have free outdoor concerts on Friday and some Saturday nights. Some of the styles of music that can be enjoyed include jazz, gospel, R&B, and even the Philadelphia Orchestra’s classical tunes. The plaza also features free outdoor movies on Thursdays in July and August, including popular films “Wreck it Ralph” and the “The Hunger Games.” For the 4th of July, Penn’s Landing holds its famous fireworks and concert extravaganza on July 6 at 8 p.m. A few days before, on July 2 at 8 p.m., the Philadelphia Orchestra will perform its annual concert, and following it will be a land-side fireworks display. Every Friday throughout all of August will feature Smooth Jazz Summer Nights, now in its 15th season. That night will conclude with a fireworks display as well. And finally, on August 24 from 3-9 p.m., Penn’s Landing will hold “The Songs of Gospels.”

Related: Top Directors On Philadelphia Theater Scene

Christina Dagnelli is a freelance writer in Philadelphia and the author of Little Squares with Colors: A Different way to look at autism. Her work on examiner can be found here Examiner.com.
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