Trans-Siberian Orchestra played one of their first shows at the Palace Theatre more than a decade ago. Founder Paul O’Neill says it’s a surreal experience to return to the PlayhouseSquare stage for the group’s first non-holiday tour. Based on their 2000 album Beethoven’s Last Night, the show will scale back the massive production that usually accompanies TSO’s hugely popular Christmas tours. “We’re excited but a little bit nervous, because we’re so used to having a huge flight deck,” says O’Neill. “I love the arenas. But in the theaters, everybody is really close. That’s a good thing. When the Stones went out a couple of years ago, they would do some small shows because it keeps the band on its toes.” Starting on the anniversary of Beethoven’s death, the tour launches in Cincinnati before arriving in Northeast Ohio for a show at 8 tonight at Akron’s E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall (198 Hill St., 330.972.7570), and at 3 and 8 p.m. tomorrow at PlayhouseSquare's Palace Theatre (1615 Euclid Ave., 216.241.6000). “For the first non-holiday tour, we wanted a subject that was larger than life,” says O’Neill, who calls Beethoven “the world’s first heavy-metal musician.” “But we needed a subject that everybody could identify with. Look at Beethoven. He was the world’s most famous piano player, a legend at a very young age. He started to go deaf in his 20s. They found out a decade ago [that] the cause of his death was probably massive lead poisoning. It would not only have caused deafness, but also manic depression and wild mood swings. He fought his way through all that to write the Ninth Symphony. It blows my mind.” The first half of the show will be a narrated rendition of Beethoven’s Last Night. The second half will feature TSO favorites. Tickets: $48.50-$58.50. — Jeff Niesel
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