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July 25, 2005

Theatre Spotlight: The Little Theatre That Did…Blowing Rock Stage Company

Twenty years, four scene shops, 89 main stage productions and six floods equal one theatre company. The Blowing Rock Stage Company has survived all this and more en route to its 20th Anniversary season in 2005. Located in the Village of Blowing Rock (population 1,400) in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Northwestern North Carolina, this small company has grown from a non-Equity summer stock house doing 15 performances in five weeks in 1986 to an SPT 9 (Small Professional Theatre) doing 84 performances in 13 weeks plus special events, play development, and an award-winning educational program.

Under the Artistic Direction of Equity member Kenneth Kay, the Blowing Rock Stage Company has expanded its programming and grown in regional recognition. Since joining the company in June 2001, Mr. Kay has added a play reading program (New Voices of the South), which has led to the development of several new plays throughout the southeast; an Intern/Apprentice program; expanded children's theatre offerings, and one-week themed summer theatre camp.

Blowing Rock Stage Company has also forged several strong partnerships with universities (Appalachian State University and Lees-McRae College), other performing arts groups and civic organizations. In 2004, the Company partnered with the Blowing Rock Rotary Club, the Town of Blowing Rock and the Blowing Rock Parks and Recreation Department to construct an outdoor "mini-stage" at Annie Cannon Gardens in downtown Blowing Rock. The theatre is utilized by children's theatre classes, as well as other activities.

The Stage Company isn't without its problems, however. Over the past 20 years, the BRSC has been in four different scene shops and it currently operates out of seven separate buildings spread out over a ten-mile area. The Stage Company's theatre is a 1939 elementary school auditorium that floods in the first row when it rains; has no parking and only two toilets in the women's restroom. BRSC also operates with only two year-round staff members, Mr. Kay and General Manager Robert Miller Jr., also an Equity member. All of this will change though when the Stage Company moves into its long anticipated new home in 2006.

New Home, New Name
The Miriam & Robert Hayes Performing Arts Center (the theatre’s new name) is scheduled to open in June of 2006. The new facility will become BRSC's permanent home and allow the Company to expand beyond the summer since it will no longer be at the mercy of school schedules. The Hayes Performing Arts Center will seat 326 in the main auditorium and have a full orchestra pit, fly tower, dressing rooms, lobby and wing space (all of which the current facilities lack). There will also be a second space that can be used for black box and children's theatre. "The new home will allow BRSC to operate year round, produce larger shows, and hire more designers, technicians, directors and Equity Actors and Stage Managers," boasts Robert Miller.

Blowing Rock Stage Company
The Staff, Crew and Casts of THE TAFFETAS and LOST IN YONKERS at the construction site for BRSC's new home: The Mariam & Robert Hayes Performing Arts Center

Equity Members in Photo: Kim Cozort, Stephen G. Anthony, Kenneth Kay, Wendy Hayes, Jesseca Terhaar, Channing Franks, Lisa Lamont, Nicole Fenstad, Robert Miller Jr., and Viki Boyle

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