Next week, shows will begin on the mainstage of the expanded Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, opening after months of renovations. The Diana Wortham Theatre is still the venue’s mainstage, but the new Center will have multiple stages, plus event + workshop spaces, that will welcome artists and audiences. The Wortham Center’s season will open with Kronos Quartet, who are kicking things off on Tuesday (Sept. 17). A grand opening celebration will be held next month on Oct. 19.
We got a sneak peek of the new space, and checked out the programming planned and the vision of the Center’s leadership. Here’s what we found out–
- The history of the building dates to the 1920s, when it was the first location of Pack Library. Eventually, It housed the Asheville Art Museum, the Colburn Gem Museum, and the Health Adventure, plus the Diana Wortham Theatre.
- The newly renovated space includes three theatres + event spaces – Diana Wortham, which was remodeled and updated, the Tina McGuire Theatre, and the Henry LaBrun Studio. There’s soundproofing between each space, so there could be up to three shows in a night.
- The venue is designed to both bring in national + international talent, and to support the local community. There are 40-50 shows per year, plus 20-30 set aside for children and educators. On the other days of the year, the building is used for community rentals.
- Diana Wortham can seat up to 500 people. The stage is 40’ by 50’ with a fully sprung floor. Improvements included a full LED lighting upgrade and a new sound system. DYK: The theatre’s chairs are from Radio City Music Hall.
- The space’s new blackbox theatre, the Tina McGuire Theatre, will host the Center’s first company-in-residence, Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective. They’re already performing their first show – The Education of Ted Harris by Jamie Knox. Grab tickets here.
- The Tina McGuire Theatre will also host special events, like a songwriting workshop, a puppetry workshop, artists’ residencies, master classes, rehearsals and more. The space is the same size as the Diana Wortham Theatre’s stage, allowing for full production rehearsals of mainstage shows. It seats 80-100 people.
- The Henry LaBrun Studio is designed for intimate performances, classes + workshops. It has a hardwood sprung dance floor with a 2 ½” sink. Events planned for the space include evening performances, special fitness classes that will run in eight-week blocks, summer classes + more. The space includes mirrors and a barre. It seats 60-80 people.
- A new cafe will serve beer on tap, wine, and local snacks (think French Broad Chocolates, Hickory Nut Gap Farms + Poppy Popcorn). Protip: Check your ticket – you’ll either have a coupon for 15% off your purchase at Mast General Store or $.50-$1.00 off your concession purchase.
- New landscaping outside + includes a courtyard refresh and mini-stage that will feature environmental (not amplified) live music.
- There’s also a small kitchen + a coat check.
Ready to dive into the performing arts? Season tickets and packages (including options to build-your-own 3+, 5+, and 7+ show bundles and save a percentage off) are on sale now. The standout season includes performances from BalletX, Violet Bell, Flamenco Vivo and Carlota Santana, Yamato: The Drummers of Japan, Pilobolus + more.
What performances, workshops + special events do you want to attend at the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts?Tell us here.