Free backstage tours in Playhouse Square

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - On the first Saturday of each month, Playhouse Square RedCoat volunteers offer free, behind the scenes tours to anyone who is curious and wants to learn about the remarkable history of the five theaters that make up Playhouse Square.

It was a history that was nearly cut short because the theaters were nearly demolished when they became abandoned in the 50's and 60's.

Tour goers now get to go behind the black curtain and feel what it's like to be up on the stage where actors look out at the million theater enthusiasts who visit every year.

RedCoats also take their tours into the places most have never seen like the makeup rooms, the very understated green room and even the place where the actors and their crews do their laundry.

Each theaters' history seems to have a story line as interesting as the many productions that have been performed on their stages.

We caught up with Barb Mazzone, who is a RedCoat and House Manager, and has been with Playhouse Square since 1984.  

On Saturday, she was guiding a tour through the Ohio Theater.

"In the 90's, we actually tore out back wall and made the stage deeper so that you could actually do more than just show a movie - have a movie screen hanging down -you can actually do a full production," described Mazzone. 

A fire gutted the lobby of the Ohio Theater in the 60's.

"The entire lobby was destroyed down to the cement block, down to the brick.  It stayed that way for a very long time because we didn't have any money to do anything with it," Mazzone told the group.

Eventually the Ohio Theater was renovated and - at one point - hosted a supper club, boasting that it had the longest bar in the world.

"You would come here, and you could have an eight course dinner," said Mazzone.

There are so many stories like that one to tell about five historic theaters that are part of the largest performing arts center in the country, outside of New York.

"Many people are surprised at how amazing this place is - Playhouse Square is amazing," added Mazzone.

For more information on the tours, click here:

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