Chelyabinsk may be known for its heavy industry, but it might not be long before the museums, theaters and galleries outnumber the factories. If you're venturing north to the Gateway to Siberia, make sure you book tickets for these thrilling dramatic performances.
From Chekhov's plays to Tchaikovsky's scores and Pushkin's poetry, Russia's artistic influence encompasses almost every genre there is – and nowhere is this more evident than in the northern city of Chelyabinsk. Our Radisson Blu Hotel, Chelyabinsk is conveniently located in between several of the city's top theaters, so there's no excuse for missing the opening number.
State Chamber Theater
Founded in 1988, the State Chamber Theater was created by a group of local drama enthusiasts who wanted the freedom to experiment with unconventional productions. It became an official state theater in 1992, and has continued to rack up awards for innovative performances of classic plays like Le Libertin, Oblomov and The Seagull. They're also known for their children's performances, with November 2014's production of Rudyard Kipling's Rikki-Tikki-Tavi bringing to life the story of the plucky mongoose and his battle against the evil cobras.
South Ural State University, one of the top ten universities in Russia, is also the home of the cozy student-operated Mannequin Theater. They've previously tackled ambitious projects like Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, Peter Shaffer's Equus and Chekhov's Three Sisters, and will spend the early part of 2015 gearing up to May's Unifest, an international celebration of performance art in Chelyabinsk. The theme for this year is "Theater and the City", so expect lots of daring site-specific work.
Glinka State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater
The beloved Glinka Theater is one of the most impressive buildings in Chelyabinsk, with an eight-pillared yellow façade and lavishly decorated interior. Named after Russian composer Mikhail Glinka, the theater can accommodate up to 1,200 audience members and often takes its shows on tour around Russia and further abroad. Previous productions include just about every iconic opera and ballet in the book, from Giselle to La Traviata and The Marriage of Figaro. If it's on while you're in town, don't miss their magical production of The Nutcracker, the quintessential Christmas ballet with a score that'll stay in your head for days.
Studio Theatre "The Steam Engine"
This eclectic theater, founded in 1963, started out as a youth group and still has a flair for quirky modern shows, with a back catalog that includes bizarre vaudeville nights and an adaptation of the 1970s cult film Harold and Maude. The Studio Theater also holds drama courses for aspiring local actors and participates regularly in regional festivals.
Chelyabinsk State Puppet Theater
The Chelyabinsk State Puppet Theater manages the rare feat of producing shows that are equally entertaining for children and adults, and has deservedly won numerous awards. Performances combine kaleidoscopic visuals, singing, dancing, and the use of light and shadow to tell simple, effective stories. Their repertoire covers an international canon of children's literature, with England's Alice in Wonderland, Denmark's Thumbelina and Russia's Masha and the Bear all familiar favorites. You can find age suitability guidance on their website, making it easy to pick a production your whole family will love.