The area around Oxford in East Alabama has done it once before. Now, it is doing it again. Act Two.

It had become an entertainment mecca with the founding of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in next door Anniston.

That festival moved to Montgomery decades ago after receiving millions in needed donations from Montgomery's Winton Blount family and the building of a Globe Theatre replica and park there. The Shakespeare Fest had been a success in Anniston, and it continues to be a success in Montgomery.

Now, Oxford is doing it again. This time, it has become a center of attraction for concerts, musicals and a variety of other entertainment.

Oxford took an unused historic building and turned into the Oxford Performing Arts Center (OPAC). The classic building had been a city hall, fire station and city jail. Millions later, it is now a 1,200-seat performing arts theater.   

Upcoming productions at OPAC include:

February 8. “Little Women.”  The Broadway musical based on the novel series by Luisa Mae Alcott.hestra

February 10. “A Night in New Orleans.”  With the Atlanta Pops Orchestra.

February 13.  “A Classical Valentine” with Timothy Miller & Julio Barreto.

February 23. “The Cher Show.”  The Broadway musical on national tour.

February 27. “Come From Away.”  The Broadway national tour.

March 1. “An Evening with Marie Osmond.”

March 2. Dave Mason. Traffic Jam tour.

March 3. “Floyd Nation.” Tribute to Pink Floyd.

March 15. “The American ELO.”

March 22.  “Son of Serendip” with the Atlanta Pops.

March 23. Travis Tritt.

March 26.  Dinosaur World Live.

March 28. “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” with Scot Bruce.

April 4. “The Oak Ridge Boys.” Their farewell tour with William Lee Golden.

April 6.  Iam Tongi.  The winner of American Idol 2023.

April 9. Escher String Quartet.

April 12. Amy Grant.

April 14. “Stairway to Zeppelin.” Lee Zeppelin tribute.

April 16. “Alice: Dreaming of Wonderland.”

April 19. The Music of the Drifters, Coasters, and Platters.

April 26. Leonid and Friends.

April 28. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

May 3. Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez with the Atlanta Pops.

May 6. Doktor Kaboom!

May 31.  Happy Together Tour. Tribute to the Turtles, Jay & the Americans, the Association, Badfinger, the Vogues and the Cowsills.

July 12. Sean of the South.

Notice that there is something for everyone. Classic lovers. Oldies rock. Children's programs. Current celebrities. Southern acts. Musicals. Country music. Tribute bands of popular acts.

Details on OPAC events and tickets are here.

OPAC is located in historic downtown Oxford at 100 Choccolocco Street.

If you are interested in dining on your musical trip to Oxford, an upscale restaurant is in another restored and historic building right next door to OPAC. "Hubbard's Off Main" is operated by Oxford civic leader Charlotte Hubbard. It is almost white glove service. Attire is mixed, mostly dressy casual. Reservations are always accepted and, on concert nights, reservations are needed.

The restaurant is described on its website:

"...an intimate yet casual atmosphere with gracious hosts eager to make you feel right at home. Choose from a menu filled with classy Southern dishes and a few Oxford originals, too – we love representing our charming town. Try one of our award-winning steaks, or if you're looking for a more casual night out, our selection of burgers is sure to hit the spot. The brick walls and the exposed wood beams gracing the ceiling create a quaint atmosphere nestled in a historic building, and our location right across from the Oxford Performing Arts Center makes us a perfect spot to dine for a night on the town."

Hubbard's Off Main occupies the classic building of the former Hubbard's Piano Company. It has black and white photos of old Oxford and old Alabama decking the walls. It has a small stage and upright pianos. Dining at Hubbard's is like dining inside a museum of Alabama of yesteryear.

U.S. travelers often have Oxford, Mississippi, on their bucket lists because of its history of Southern writers. Now, they are adding Oxford, Alabama, because of its musical performances. And it calls out for more than one trip.

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

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