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It’s Showtime! Curtains Up at these Rochester Performance Venues

Wednesday, September 1, 2021 10:00 AM by Visit Rochester Staff

The performing arts are lighting up stages once again as live theater has returned to Rochester! Grab your tickets and plan a night at the theatre – along with a great pre- or post-show beverage and snack to make the most of your evening away. Check out our top three performance venues in Rochester, and what’s within walking distance to sip, snack, or savor.

WHERE TO SEE THE SHOWS


Blackfriars Theatre


Blackfriars Theatre (795 East Main Street) is a venue where extraordinary Rochesterian talent comes alive. Currently in its 70th season, this mid-sized professional theatre shines the spotlight on local actors. 

In September, the Grammy® Award-winning and Tony Award®-nominated smash, Smokey Joe’s Café will hit the stage with classis songs of the past century, including “On Broadway,” “Stand by Me,” and “Hound Dog.” Also coming this fall is a return of Imagination Station with Mrs. Kasha Davis, a family-friendly program featuring inclusive stories, original music, dance, and crafts, led by RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Mrs. Kasha Davis. 

View the 2021-2022 season here

Geva Theatre Center


Founded in 1972, Geva Theatre Center (75 Woodbury Blvd) offers a wide-ranging collection of drama, comedy and musical theatre, from classics to world premieres. The company also features educational, outreach and literary programming to enrich audiences, students and artists of all ages across its two on-site stages. Visitors coming to are encourage to come early for shows - the theater has an on-site kitchen that showcases entrees, small plates and desserts. 

After more than 500 days since its last live performance, the theatre doors reopened on Aug. 3 for Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash (running through Sept. 12). Also coming soon to the stage is Vietgone, a rock and romance motorcycle adventure set in 1975 (Sept. 28 – Oct. 24) and the traditional A Christmas Carol in November and December.

The theatre’s full 49th season will kick off in January 2022. 

View the 2022 season here

Rochester’s Auditorium Theatre


The line-up at Rochester’s Auditorium Theatre (885 E Main St.), includes touring Broadway shows, live concerts, comedy, dramatic and family events. Built in 1928, the historic building was renovated in 2003 and still boasts dramatic walls and ceilings, as well as art deco influenced light fixtures, and stands as one of Rochester’s largest auditorium venues. 

The theatre will reopen with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical CATS, kicking off the Broadway season on Sept. 21-26, 2021. Other shows in the lineup and hosted at RBTL include: 

  • The Best of Abbey Road Live with RAIN – A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES (Oct. 23)

  • Cinderella presented by The State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine (Nov. 7)

  • Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Nov. 16-21)

  • Pretty Woman the Musical (Dec. 7-12)

  • My Fair Lady (Feb. 22-27)

  • Dear Evan Hansen (Apr. 12-17)

  • The Band’s Visit (Jun. 7-12)

  • Mean Girls (Jul. 5-10)

  • Hamilton (Nov. 1-13)

View the 2021-2022 season here

NEIGHBORING PRE/POST SHOW EATERIES

All three theatres are within walking distance of some of Rochester’s most amazing eateries and chef-led kitchens! Be sure to plan time for a pre- or post-show bite, we recommend: 

Village Gate (walking distance to Rochester’s Auditorium Theatre/Blackfriars Theatre)


Over at Village Gate in the well-known Neighborhood of the Arts, you can choose from among 10 distinctive restaurants that make up the indoor and outdoor dining options. There are innovative craft cocktails, aperifs and comfort food galore. Try “criminally addictive chickpeas” or make your own s’mores at Nox Cocktail Lounge. Plan an evening of fine dining at Lento, known for its farm-to-table menu, raw oyster bar and fresh libations. Below is an additional mix to whet your palette and whistle: 

  • Polizzi’s serves up a combination of Greek, Spanish and French cuisine from Saganaki (flaming cheese) to shrimp ajillo, plus homemade desserts such as Spanish fried ice cream, baklava, butterscotch buddino and crème brulee.

  • For casual and kid-friendly American dishes, The Gate House is famous for its creative burgers named after Rochester celebrities and wood-fired pizzas penned as Rochester Landmarks. Yes, before or after you hit the Auditorium Theatre, you can dig into the Auditorium pizza (roasted tomatoes, basil, pesto, mozzarella, grilled chicken and goat cheese!) Tasty starters range from bruschetta to colossal eggplant fries. On the sweeter side, you can’t go wrong with a peanut butter Nutella and banana sundae or Molten Lava cake. The restaurant features a spacious bar area as well. 

  • Is margaritas and guacamole more your style? Salena’s Restaurant has been a Village Gate staple for more than 20 years, as an ideal spot for Mexican food (a stuffed avocado, enchiladas and fajitas to name a few), plus Mexican beer and unique cocktails. 

Railroad Street (walking distance to Rochester’s Auditorium Theatre/Blackfriars Theatre)


Head over to Railroad Street, part of the Public Market District that’s buzzing with indoor/outdoor haunts that include Rochester’s oldest brewery and a grain-to-glass distillery.  

  • Brews, cider and wine are on the menu at Rohrbach Brewing Company’s beer hall, all complemented by their wood-fired kitchen menu. Savor house-made wood-fired pretzel logs, wings and stuffed clam shells for starters, or satisfy your sweet tooth with caramel apple scrip or a cookie sundae. 

  • The tasting room at Black Button Distilling is stacked with their bottles of bourbon, gin, whiskey, liqueur vodka and apple pie moonshine, all available in inventive cocktail form. Temptations include the Apple Pie Sour, an Old Fashioned, a Chocolatini and French 75. If you like what you taste, bring a botte (and recipe) home with you!

  • Bitter Honey is an elevated Mexican restaurant in a family-style setting.  Mezcal-based cocktails are the stars on this drink menu and authentic tacos (Al Pastor, Babacoa and Baja), Flautas and Churros make up just a new noteworthy offerings.

Downtown Dining (walking distance to Geva Theatre Center)

  • At 180 South Clinton Ave (and a close kitty-corner to Geva), Native Bar & Eatery features a New-age American and locally sourced menu with plenty of shared plates (charcuterie board, lettuce wraps, pizzas and steamed buns), plus, handcrafted cocktails, microbrews and wines and a spacious outdoor patio. 

  • Inside the modern Metropolitan lobby (1 South Clinton Ave) the dinner menu changes weekly at Bar Bantam, with dishes like mussels, tacos and an exquisitely layered tuna tower. Cougar Juice (vodka, aperol, lemon, pineapple and demerara) and Top Banana (rum, lime, banana liquer and bitters) are a preview of the current cocktails flowing at the sleek bar from 5 pm until late. Outdoor seating is also available, in season.

Author: Visit Rochester Staff

Visit Rochester staff share the inside scoop on Rochester and the Finger Lakes region.