Don’t-Miss Performances in Central Massachusetts

An all-star lineup of comedy, music, and family fun promises to keep things lively all the way into the new year.

By Kate Grip Denon

Sep 05 2022


Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts

Photo Credit : Courtesy of Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts

Sponsored by Discover Central Massachusetts

When it comes to live entertainment, Central Massachusetts, like its location, is in the heart of it all. That’s thanks in large part to the presence of the state’s second-largest city, Worcester, which has long attracted heavy-duty star power — from legendary musicians to side-splitting comedy acts and crowd-pleasing family shows.

Nationally recognized for its beautiful renovation and restoration, the historic Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts draws more than 197,000 patrons annually with world-class performances and headlining acts.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts

Fans can take a seat at one of the city’s historic gems, including the Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts, a 2,300-seat theater that garnered a National Trust for Historic Preservation Award for the renovation and restoration of its original 1904 building and its lavish 1920s decor. Just a few blocks away is the landmark Mechanics Hall: Built in 1857, this Renaissance Revival–style gem is considered to be the nation’s finest pre-Civil War concert hall. Meanwhile, the modern era is impressively represented by the 14,500-seat DCU Center, which opened with headliner Frank Sinatra in 1982, and quickly cemented its reputation as a premier concert destination with Irish rock band U2’s first arena shows in the United States, in 1983.

With its spacious arena and attached convention center, the DCU Center is a regional magnet for crowd-pleasing concerts and family shows — often making their only Massachusetts appearance here — as well as sporting events and conventions.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of DCU Center

Regardless of the venue, though, visitors to Central Massachusetts are guaranteed one thing: a collection of shows that will allow them to experience the very best of live entertainment through the end of 2022 and beyond.

Laugh Out Loud

Fans of The Zookeeper and Paul Blart: Mall Cop get a chance to see funnyman Kevin James in person when he comes to Worcester for a two-night stand in November.
Photo Credit : Tom Caltabiano

Among the hot tickets on the comedy scene is Kevin James at the Hanover Theatre (Nov. 11–12). Best known for starring as the good-natured delivery driver Doug Heffernan in The King of Queens (for which he earned an Emmy nod), this TV, film, and standup comedian brings his affable, blue-collar persona to Worcester in his only Bay State appearance this fall.

Chelsea Lately star Chelsea Handler speaks her mind — hilariously — during her nationwide “Vaccinated and Horny Tour,” which arrives at the Hanover Theatre in December.
Photo Credit : Provided photo

Comedy fans whose sense of humor skews a bit more risqué should check back to the Hanover Theater the following month, when Chelsea Handler takes the mic for her “Vaccinated and Horny Tour” (Dec. 3). Expect plenty of the frank and funny commentary that has made this comedian, TV host, and best-selling author a pop culture icon.

Proving that Central Massachusetts stages offer something for everyone, that same evening (Dec. 3), the DCU Center hosts Sebastian Maniscalco for his “Nobody Does This Tour.” Known for mixing observational humor with a high-energy performance style, Maniscalco has been dubbed one of the hottest comics in America by The New York Times.

See improv comedy at its best when Colin Mochrie (left) and Brad Sherwood bring their “Scared Scriptless” hijinks to town in January.
Photo Credit : Provided photo

Keep the laughter rolling into the new year with the comedic duo of Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood, who bring their “Scared Scriptless” show to the Hanover Theatre on Jan. 21. The master improv artists from Whose Line Is It Anyway? will keep you guessing and giggling as they create scenes, routines, and songs based on whatever the audience suggests.

Make It a Family Night

When it comes to family fun, Central Massachusetts doesn’t disappoint. The Hanover Theatre welcomes PBS Kids star Peppa Pig in “Peppa Pig’s Adventure” on Oct. 21. This hour-long live musical experience invites parents and kids to come along as the plucky little piglet embarks on a camping trip in the woods with her little brother, George, and school friends Pedro Pony, Suzy Sheep, and Gerald Giraffe.

The DCU Center offers twice the fun with “Disney on Ice Presents: Frozen and Encanto,” which reimagines a pair of classic Disney movies as ice-skating extravaganzas.
Photo Credit : Feld Entertainment

Two beloved Disney tales are told in a whole new way in “Disney on Ice Presents: Frozen and Encanto,” coming to the DCU Center Oct. 27–30. Talented ice skaters transport audiences to the snowy realm of Arendelle, where Anna searches for her sister Elsa in an effort to stop the eternal winter, before whisking them off to Colombia, to follow Mirabel’s quest to save her family home. For another dose of Disney — but this time onstage — head to the Hanover Theatre for “Disney’s Aladdin” (Nov. 3-6), filled with timeless storytelling and award-winning music.

Music to Your Ears

Whether your musical taste leans toward country, classical, or anything in between, you’re bound to find just the right ticket on Worcester’s stages. In the only New England stop on his “Glad You’re Here Tour,” country star Walker Hayes comes the DCU Center on Oct. 8, with guest Parmalee. Kick back and enjoy hits from Hayes’ newest album, Country Stuff, including “Fancy Like,” which garnered Hayes his first Grammy Award nomination, for best country song.

Folk and bluegrass powerhouse duo Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck make their only Bay State appearance this fall at Mechanics Hall in Worcester.
Photo Credit : Jim McGuire/Courtesy of the artist

Keep the down-home vibes going with folk duo Belá Fleck and Abigail Washburn, who perform Oct. 28 at Mechanics Hall. The couple, who met at a square dance 15 years ago, have been hailed as the “king and queen of banjo.” Expect tunes from their Grammy-winning self-titled debut as well samplings from their latest record, Echo in the Valley.

A true star of Broadway shines bright at Mechanics Hall when Brian Stokes Mitchell takes the stage to perform songs from beloved musicals and more.
Photo Credit : Provided photo

Also appearing at Mechanics Hall is Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell (Nov. 4). Called “the last leading man” by The New York Times, Mitchell received a Tony Award for his performance in Kiss Me, Kate, as well as Tony nominations for his roles in Man of La Mancha and Ragtime.

On Dec. 4, the internationally renowned and award-winning recording artist, performer, and songwriter Pavlo comes to the Hanover Theatre. Titled “Pavlo in Concert: The Santorini Tour,” the performance — a fund-raiser for Alzheimer’s research — will take concertgoers on a Mediterranean escape with sounds blending Greek, Spanish, flamenco, and Latin styles. Pavlo, who has released 15 albums, has performed for royalty including Britain’s Prince Charles and toured with such notable artists as John Secada and Jose Feliciano.

Finally, get into the holiday spirit with the Worcester Chamber Music Society’s “Season of Light,” at Princeton Congregational Church (Dec. 8) and the Worcester Historical Museum (Dec. 9). The program includes classical favorites that sound just right for the season, including “Brandenburg Concerto No. 5” by Johann Sebastian Bach, “Concerto Gross Op 6, #11” by Arcangelo Corelli, and “Concerto in G Major for Four Violins” by Georg Philip Telemann.