Unbeknownst to many, Central Kentucky was one of the waypoints on the road to the American West. The influx of travelers by the Wilderness Road and various waterways in the 18th and 19th centuries meant rapid cultural growth, and the proliferation of one of the era’s most popular forms of entertainment: theatre.
Records of a permanent theatre in Lexington date as far back as 1801. A number of theatres served the “Athens of the West” through the 19th century, often with two or more competing for business during the regular theatrical season. With the destruction of one of the city’s most popular venues, the Opera House, in an 1886 fire, the community experienced such a shock that plans for reconstruction were initiated almost immediately.
What was built within the two months after the fire is today one of Lexington’s major centers for arts and entertainment. The Lexington Opera House (LOH) has featured all popular forms of entertainment as public tastes have changed, from theatre to vaudeville, motion pictures to musical performances of all kinds. Though these changes meant difficult economic times for the LOH (and even a few close encounters with the wrecking ball), with a few natural disasters along the way, the venue stayed alive.
LOH was completely renovated in the 1970’s. Its grand reopening was May 7, 1976, featuring the Lexington Philharmonic with violinist Eugene Fodor and the Lexington Singers. Today the Lexington Opera House upholds its theatrical tradition as the home venue for Broadway Live! The venue also features performances by the city’s major performing arts groups, including the Lexington Philharmonic, Kentucky Ballet Theatre, Lexington Ballet Company, UK Opera Theatre, and Lexington Children’s Theatre, among others. Additional performances include popular musical acts, family shows, comedy performances and much more.
Lexington Opera House Information
- Public Transportation: Excellent (within a 5-minute walk from several Lextran buses that run Broadway Road; the trolley Blue Route at Vine Street/Broadway Road; and the trolley Green Route at Upper Street/Main Street)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good. Accessible seating available in the Orchestra level
- Performances/Programs: Approximately 60 events annually
- Ticket Prices: Vary ($10–$100) depending on event and seating.