Readers’ Choice 2022 Activities and Arts – Baltimore Sun

Baltimore Sun readers voted on what’s best in the region, from antiques to veterinary practices. This year’s winners include individuals and businesses recognized for exceptional customer service and satisfaction over the past year. Several businesses have stood out from the crowd despite the downturn in trade due to the pandemic.

Readers’ Choice winners were selected by readers in May.

For more categories, go to baltimoresun.com/best.

Baltimore Center Stage

700 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, centerstage.org, (410) 332-0033

Happy Birthday Baltimore Center Stage! For a 60-year-old theater company, you sure don’t look your age.

As it celebrates six decades of producing live theater, the Maryland State Theater may choose — as many regional theaters across the country have chosen — to get a little laid back, a little complacent. As the Old Line State’s largest and oldest professional theater company, it can fill its seasons with yesteryear classics and proven audience favorites.

He could coddle the audience instead of challenging it. But then it wouldn’t be Center Stage.

From its earliest days, the company, founded in 1963 by the visionary Peter W. Kuhlman, has never been afraid to experiment and take risks: by staging financially risky new works, by embracing color-blind casting, and by introducing members to the audience with unfamiliar voices and perspectives.

Over the past three decades, the theater’s commitment to shaking things up has been honed and sharpened by former artistic directors Irene Lewis and Kwame Kwaye-Armah, a trend that Stephanie Ybarra, who has led the company since 2018, has every intention of continuing.

“I want to build on what Irene and Kwame have accomplished,” Ybarra said.

Not that Center Stage eschews the classics. The final performance of the 2021-22 season was The Bakkhai, an ancient Greek tragedy first performed in 405 BC. But two major themes in this 2,400-year-old work are gender fluidity and the dangers of mob mentality—issues that dominate today’s headlines.

Ybarra is also trying to strengthen Center Stage’s ties to the city and state in which the theater is located.

She started a series of “Baltimore Butterfly Sessions” that combine music, poetry, literary excerpts and conversation on issues ranging from climate change to racial violence to media representation of Baltimore.

She opened the theater lobby for a blood drive hosted by the American Red Cross and collaborated with the NAACP to sponsor a gubernatorial debate.

Next season will also feature a new “local” festival of Baltimore artists engaged in various forms of storytelling, from music to spoken word to the visual arts.

If the 60th anniversary season will have a unifying theme, Ybarra said, it will be “Our City of Baltimore.”

“We’re going to look at how our city works,” she said. “We will look to the past, but we will also look forward to ask what Baltimore and Baltimore Center Stage can be for generations to come.”

Bowling: Mustang Alley Bar, Bowling and Bistro

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Patterson Bowling Center

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AMF

Casino: Maryland Live! Casino

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Horseshoe Casino Baltimore

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Charity/Non-Profit: Caroline Center

Honorable Mentions:

Hampden Family Centre

Archdiocese of Baltimore

Second Chance Inc.

College/University: Towson University

Honorable Mentions:

Loyola University Maryland

Johns Hopkins University

Morgan State University

Dog Park: Patterson Park

Honorable Mentions:

Canton Dog Park

Burdick Park

Perry Paw Dog Park

Golf Course: Pine Ridge Golf Course

Honorable Mentions:

Mount Pleasant Golf Course

Bulle Rock Golf Course

Greystone Golf Course

Museum: Museum of American Visionary Art

Honorable Mentions:

Baltimore Museum of Art

The Walters Art Museum

B&O Railroad Museum

Park: Patapsco Valley State Park

Honorable Mentions:

Patterson Park

Oregon Ridge Park and Nature Center

Druid Hill Park

Private School: Loyola Blakefield

Honorable Mentions:

Calvert Hall College High School

Mercy High School

St. Louis School

Suburb: Ellicott City Historic District

Honorable Mentions:

Towson

Lutherville

Catonsville

Theater Company: Baltimore Center Stage

Honorable Mentions:

Toby’s Dinner Theater

Baltimore Rock Opera Society

Baltimore Choral Arts Society (tie)

Single Carrot Theater (tie)

Tourist attraction: Museum of American Visionary Art

Honorable Mention:

National Aquarium

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Hampden Avenue

Trail: Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail

Honorable Mentions:

Gwynns Falls Trail

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Herring Run Park

North Park Loop Trail (Joe K’s Trail)

Wedding Venue: Museum of American Visionary Art

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The Cloisters Castle

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Baltimore Museum of Industry

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