By David Rogers. May 18, 2016. BLOWING ROCK, NC — After more than 200 performances of some 52 different productions and having almost 20,000 area residents and town visitors attend its shows since launching in 2009, Blowing Rock’s Ensemble Stage professional theatre company is hitting its stride — and will soon forge ahead with its seventh summer theatre season.
COVER IMAGE: Ensemble Stage artistic director Gary Smith told of the professional theatre company’s economic impact, as well as described the upcoming summer season. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Artistic director Gary Smith was at Chetola Mountain Resort on Monday as the guest program presenter for The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock. Smith opened his presentation by talking about the economic impact that the professional theatre company now brings to Blowing Rock and its surrounding communities.
“We’ve hired more than 200 performers, as well as more than 60 designers and crew personnel,” he revealed to the Rotarians. “We pay our professional actors and staff and they each come to Blowing Rock for weeks at a time. They eat, they shop, and they are entertained at local businesses. In a survey we conducted last year among everyone that has ever bought a ticket from us, forty percent (40%) of the patrons who responded said that attending one or more of our shows is the primary reason they come to Blowing Rock. Twelve percent (12%) said that the ONLY time they come to Blowing Rock is to see one of our productions.”
Smith added that being involved in the community is of paramount importance to he and co-founder, managing director Lisa Lamont. “We’ve trained more than 100 students, ages 5-18, in theatrical and presentation techniques. We’ve donated more than 1,000 hours to local schools and non-profits, including serving as a judge or coach for Shooting Stars. We’ve donated over $1,000 in show tickets to various non-profits for their fundraisers and silent auctions. In 2013, we produced and presented original ‘Anti-Bullying’ plays to more than 300 students at Blowing Rock School — and the shows starred 14 student actors, all Blowing Rock School students in various grades — who all went through six months of rehearsals. In 2015, we produced and presented the play, ‘And A Child Shall Lead,’ based on a true story of eight children being held at Terazin Concentration Camp during World War II.
“In our summer theatre camps for kids,” Smith added, “our students write and perform in their own plays. A few years ago, one of those plays got picked up by a publishing house, so each of those students is now a published playwright.”
After underlining the economic impact of professional theatre and noting his team’s commitment to the community, Smith offered the Rotarians a description of the summer and fall’s Main Stage productions, with the first beginning in June.
- June 25-July 3: The Melville Boys
- July 16-July 24: Toyer
- August 6-August 14: Visiting Mr. Green
- August 27-September 4: Waiting for MacArthur
Smith also told of Ensemble Stage’s “Saturday Kid’s Theatre” productions, Cinderella (July 2 and July 23) and Robin Hood (July 9 and July 30)
For a fuller review of the summer season, please click on this link to an earlier Blowing Rock News article: CLICK HERE.
Among other Rotary business, past president Jim Clabough reported on Horse Show advertising sales (more than $31,000 sold so far), while another former club president, Bill Leahey, fended off good-natured questions about how he was financing his upcoming trip to Hawaii while serving as Horse Show “Derby” chair. He assured the members that all of the money was accounted for, totalling more than $1,300 for the Derby to date.
Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust chairman, Ed Tausche, reiterated his thanks to the club for helping it to first place among more than 50 clubs in Rotary International District 7670 in both total giving, as well as per capita giving.