After all of the cold (and the rain) and the snow (and the rain) and the storms (and the rain), it's time to embrace a splendid summer season. Here are some warm weather diversions to check out in Greater Akron and Northeast Ohio in the next three months.
You won't need Dramamine for Cedar Point's new attraction this summer but instead a healthy dose of imagination. Cedar Point has converted a wooded area in the heart of the park into a fictional old-time village that is home to a cast of characters eager to chat and court your allegiance.
The entrance to Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island is off Frontier Trail where the old Shoot the Rapids water ride once stood. The story goes that the fictional settlement has been cut off from visitors for five years because of feuds among the Wapis and Cayugas.
The island has been reopened to visitors for "Truce Day," and the 20 or so characters who live there will try to persuade visitors to claim allegiances to one clan or the other. The island — reachable by raft, a wobbly bridge or a meandering path — is also home to a new eatery, stage and a giant climbing playground for kids and adults. The attraction is included with park admission and is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Labor Day. www.cedarpoint.com.
Dream the impossible ...
Porthouse Theatre's three-show season kicks off this weekend on the beautiful grounds of Blossom Music Center with the heartbreaking and hilarious musical "Man of La Mancha." The show, starring Equity actors Fabio Polanco, Genny Lis Padilla, Brian Chandler and Cody Hernandez, will be directed by Terri Kent and choreographed by Martin Cespedes. The preview is Thursday, and it opens Friday and runs through June 28 (Tuesdays through Sundays).
Continuing the 51st season will be "Tintypes" July 4-20, a collection of snapshots of America's last Age of Innocence prior to World War I. The musical, directed by Eric van Baars, will feature Equity actors Shamara Costa and Mavis Jennings. Fast-talking salesman Harold Hill will dominate the stage for the final show, Meredith Willson's "The Music Man" July 25-Aug. 11. The cast of 33 will be led by Broadway actor Thom Christopher Warren. porthousetheatre.com.
Light up the Night
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is hoping to reignite the excitement created last summer by its inaugural lantern festival. The summer night attraction that featured entertainers and lighted lantern displays drew some 150,000 spectators (a record for such an event in the country).
The lantern festival is returning to Cleveland June 20 for six weeks with new lantern displays, including a 100-foot-long shark tunnel, a 30-foot-tall giant panda, interactive moon swings and stepping stones and Chinese pagodas. The special night-time event will run Thursday through Sunday evenings from 6:30 to 10 p.m. through July 28. Advance tickets are $18.50 or $20.50 at the box office. www.clevelandmetroparks.com/zoo.
Pride of Africa
The countdown is on for the much-anticipated opening of the Akron Zoo's new Pride of Africa exhibit set to open June 29. The zoo recently welcomed 3-year-old lion Donovan from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium who will call the new digs home.
The new Africa section covers about 3 acres of a hill behind Grizzly Ridge and is designed to look like an African village with interactive displays. It will also be home to the zoo's expanded train ride attraction. Along with a pride of lions, the new area, included with regular zoo admission, will also have a grasslands habitat for Speke's gazelles and white storks and exhibit space for goats. www.akronzoo.org.
Akron's Lock 3 is alive with the sounds of tribute bands in WONE's ongoing Rock the Lock summer celebration. Bruce in the USA (World's #1 Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band Tribute) performs on July 3. Upcoming acts include The Prince Experience (July 5), ABBA mania (July 12) and Absolute Journey (Aug. 2). Opening acts start at 7 p.m., headliners at 8. lock3live.com.
Grab your buckets, shovels and creativity and head to the Portage Lakes Sand Castle Building Contest at 2 p.m. on July 6 at Portage Lakes State Park in New Franklin. http://plfa.net/.
'The Lion King'
The big trend at Disney is to turn beloved animated classics into live-action films. "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin" have already made the transition. Next up: "The Lion King" on July 19. James Earl Jones returns as the voice of Mufasa. Newcomers include Beyoncé as Nala, Donald Glover as Simba and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar. www.movies.disney.com.
Hootie & The Blowfish are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their smash album "Cracked Rear View" ("Let Her Cry" anyone?). They bring their Group Therapy Tour, with special guest Barenaked Ladies, to Blossom Music Center at 7:30 p.m. on July 26. www.boxofficeticket.center/.
Akron dance festival
The city of Akron will present the 12th annual Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival outdoor in the parks, offering dynamic programming, bold artistry, technical excellence and premieres of new works by Northeast Ohio companies for three consecutive weekends.
The free festival will kick off with Verb Ballets at a new location this year, Forest Lodge Park, at 8:45 p.m. July 26 and 27. Next will be GroundWorks DanceTheater at Goodyear Metro Park Aug. 2-3, followed by Neos Dance Theatre at Firestone Park Aug. 9-10.
Interactive programs for children, offered by the University of Akron's Dance Institute, will precede each performance at 7:45 p.m. Master classes for $10 and free beginner youth classes also will be offered in conjunction with each festival week. See Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival on Facebook or http://akrondancefestival.org.
Symphony in parks
The Akron Symphony Orchestra will again piggyback with the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival by offering three free concerts on Sundays on the outdoor stage built for the dance festival. The Summer Parks Concert Series will be at 7:30 p.m. July 28 at Forest Lodge Park; Aug. 4 at Goodyear Metro Park; and Aug. 11 at Firestone Park.
Programs will include works by Beethoven, Dvořák, Brahms, Offenbach and John Williams, music from "Riverdance" and traditional spirituals with tenor Brandon Bell. Also featured will be the world premiere of an orchestral version of Sousa’s "Nobles of the Mystic Shrine" arranged by David Kempers of Akron. www.akronsymphony.org.
PorchRokr keeps rocking
Highland Square’s annual and continually growing PorchRokr Music and Art Festival happens on Aug. 19 with more than 130 artists and bands gracing the porches of participating Highland Square denizens. As always, there will be plenty of vendors, food trucks and artisans spread throughout the festival area. For more information about PorchRokr 2019: www.highlandsquareakron.org/porchrokr.aspx.
Rubber City Grooves
The Rubber City Jazz & Blues festival celebrates its fourth year by featuring a big headliner, Robert Glasper. The three time Grammy winner, and Emmy winner, praised for his mixing jazz with R&B, will bring his trio to the Akron Civic Theatre stage. The music will be jumping at seven different downtown venues. The Festival runs Aug. 23-25. opentonemusic.org/rubber-city-jazz-blues-festival/.
The Akron Pride Festival welcomes any and all to celebrate the area’s LGBTQ community pride, and commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, at Hardesty Park in West Akron. There will be vendors, kids' activities, food and music by singer Deborah Cox and YouTube sensation Steve Grand. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 24. www.akronpridefestival.org/
Blossom Festival first
Among the Blossom Music Festival's wide range of fantastic events will be "South Pacific in Concert" at 8 p.m. Aug. 24. It's a first-time collaboration between the Cleveland Orchestra and students in the Baldwin Wallace musical theater program. The full Rodgers and Hammerstein musical will be presented, conducted by Andy Einhorn, and directed by BW's Victoria Bussert.
The show features favorite tunes including “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair,” “Some Enchanted Evening” and “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy." www.clevelandorchestra.com.
Beacon Journal writers Craig Webb, Kerry Clawson, Malcolm X Abram and Clint O'Connor contributed this story. Send your organization's summer events to email@example.com.