Thursday, March 4, 2010


This is a long gone memory for me.  MUSICARNIVAL was located on Warrensville Center Road in Warrensville Heights Ohio from 1954 to the end of the 1975 season was it was dismantled.  It was the first of the post WWII Tent theatres - a fad that swept the nation for a while - that hosted traveling Broadway shows and musical revues.

Every spring the tent cover would go up, although the mast and the cable structure stayed in place year round.  The facility could hold 2,500 in the audience, the attraction being that it was "Theatre in the Round" and we all know what that means!  Second and third tier talent belting out tunes from Oklahoma to Fiddler on the Roof (Robert Goulet is TEVIA!).

While it remained popular, two things killed MUSICARNIVAL.  The first was the opening of the Frontrow Theatre in Highland Heights, which was year round facility with good freeway access.  The other was race.  Warrensville Heights was growing increasing African American by the 1970s and for a percentage of white Cleveland's in the 1970s, the riots of the 1960s weren't that far behind them that they could overlook it.  So the curatin came down on the big tent, and then the tent came down as well.

However in the ever-glow memories of a summertime's past in an innocent world gone forever, MUSICARNIVAL remains, one of the memories that I still hold dear.

1 comment:

  1. You know, for white guy from Shaker, you do speak with a certain element of truth about the demise of the big top tent entertainment in Warrensville. I too have fond memories of the place, as I lived in the community just across the street from the tent. We would often walk to the corner and sit and listen to the early sets before it got too dark and we had to run home. Being one of the very first "African American" families to move there in 1963, we also saw what seemed to be another exodus of sorts... All our friends were suddenly moving away. They were our friends weren't they? I mean they invited us into their homes, they played with us after school, they even let us come to their backyard cookouts... But never did they tell us to our face, what you are clearly spelling out right here about the demise of the Musicarnival. That is was families like ours that assisted in bringing about the demise of this cherished treasure!? Oh my goodness! If I had ever known that I would be somewhat responsible for the tent coming down, I would have wished that tornado that torn it up did a much better job at it so I wouldn't be hearing how I was partly the blame for the loss of this fondest of childhood memories, where my white (some Jewish at that, and even a few from Shaker to top it off) friends and I sat and lingered our summer days away together. THANKS FRIEND FOR LETTING ME KNOW I DESTROYED MY OWN WORLD BECAUSE OF THE COLOR OF MY SKIN WHICH I HAD NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER WHERE MY CREATOR SAW FIT TO STICK HIS SPIRIT OF LIFE INTO.
    Oh by the way, the truth part that I spoke about, you writing about... as I wipe my broken heart off the floor... is the part where you say "a percentage of whites" "could [not] overlook it". I have always felt, strangely, although I never wanted to see it as true or believe it to be true, the whites who say they are not racist, fall within the same percentage that can't seem to "overlook it".
    In all honesty, this if the very first time in all my life I have ever taken a stand like this regarding race, or ever in my life sounded so harsh or vehement about my race in particular. Growing up "white" in a "nicer tanned body", I caught more hell from my fellow blacks than you could imagine, many of which were extended family. But I never knew I was the cause of the destruction of my childhood memories and dreams... Oh wait... I wasn't... it was the percentage that could not "overlook me" Okay I now get it.