The Bard wrote “all the world’s a stage,” a line that Asheville seems determined to prove true. The city is a hotspot for all arts—music, film, visual arts—and no exception is made for performance. Whether you’re looking for a high-budget touring production of a classic, community-run theater, or cutting-edge performances from underground artists, you’ll find it here in Asheville.
It would be tough to talk about every performing arts stage in Asheville and not end up writing a book, so we’re going to highlight a few options to get you started.
On The Big Stage
We don’t need to spend too much time talking about the US Cellular Center and Thomas Wolfe Auditorium here. Not that the theater isn’t iconic and essential, of course, but rather that it’s such a beloved and well-documented theater that there isn’t much left to be said. It’s the place for touring ballet performances like Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, as well as opera, stand-up comedy, and national touring musicians.
Likewise, the Flat Rock Playhouse has a reputation for quality. The Playhouse is officially designated the State Theatre of North Carolina and puts on a nine-month season of Broadway musicals, comedies, and dramas in a 500-seat mainstage auditorium. The Flat Rock Playhouse is firmly situated in North Carolina’s arts history, with origins dating back to 1937. It’s a quick 30-minute drive south of Asheville and a perfect excuse to check out Flat Rock’s lovely downtown area.
Community Theatre in Asheville
Community theatre is the foundation of any good performing arts community. Asheville Community Theatre has provided that bedrock for 60 years, making it the oldest theatre in Asheville and one of the oldest community theatres in the United States. Past mainstage productions include Sweeney Todd, Young Frankenstein, Footloose, and countless other classics. If you’re looking for something a little more intimate, ACT’s black box theatre, 35below, hosts productions by local theatre companies that highlight diverse viewpoints and contemporary issues.
If you’re up for a little road trip, Brevard Little Theatre is a community-driven theatre bringing professional and amateur performances to downtown Brevard. The BLT mission includes getting locals involved in performance, whether it’s on stage or in a troupe of “occasional actors” who provide entertainment for area non-profits. Of course, it wouldn’t be a theatre without performances. They have those too—with a selection of great plays ranging from household names to forgotten Broadway gems.
Something New, Something Different
Looking for something your friends haven’t seen? The Magnetic Theatre has you covered. Their artist-driven repertoire consists largely of pieces that haven’t been performed in Western North Carolina. Their work is often challenging and inspiring, focusing on contemporary issues from a wide range of viewpoints. Their mainstage often hosts plays by local playwrights, making it a truly unique experience that you’ll be bragging about to your friends in the Big Apple.
It’s never too early to introduce a love of the stage to someone. While some of the above theatres have performances that may be somewhat challenging for children, that isn’t the case at Asheville Creative Arts. ACA is a critically revered, family-friendly venue for musicals, plays, literary performances, and puppetry. The beautifully made puppets, original music, and wonderful performances aren’t just for kids. ACA puts on performances that will please crowds of any age with their thoughtful scripting and skilled performers.
Asheville: Western North Carolina’s Home for the Performing Arts
Like we said, this isn’t close to a complete list of great performing arts spots in Asheville. We hope this guide is just a catalyst that inspires you to explore the rich world of theatre in Western North Carolina. With a community of so many talented craftspeople, performers, and musicians, you can’t go wrong. So long as there’s a stage, you’re in the right place for a great evening of entertainment in Asheville.
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