You don’t have to drive far for a great evening out because the arts are alive in Southern Virginia! Residents in our area are fortunate to have several theatre groups and performing arts organizations to enjoy throughout the year. From watching a performance to volunteering behind the scenes or even taking your own place in the spotlight, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved.
Piedmont Arts Association’s On Stage Series is the longest running theatre program in ranging from symphonies and swing bands to a moving one-man play on civil rights in the 1950s. Through the support of sponsors, Piedmont Arts is able to keep ticket prices reasonable so that the national performances are attainable for all to enjoy.
TheatreWorks Community Players, which just celebrated their 10th anniversary, has engaged the community through a variety of opportunities. In addition to traditional musicals, dramas and comedies, TheatreWorks also offers improv nights throughout the year for an evening of howling laughter.
Auditions for shows are open to anyone- no experience required. For those that do not want to be in the spotlight, there are sets to build, costumes to make and numerous other supporting roles to fill. Take it from Pat Walmsley, theatre manager of TheatreWorks Community Players’ Black Box Theatre. "I was a "Drama Mama" when my daughter was involved with theatre at Magna Vista High School. I became actively involved again when my daughter became a part of the TheatreWorks Community Players in the production of Greater Tuna. When I was later hired as the theatre manager, I was able to combine my skills to assist both the business and creative side of theatre.” When Pat is not at the theatre, she works full time as an elementary principal and uses her involvement in the arts to promote STEAM-science, technology, math and the arts for area youth.
The newest performing arts company in the area is the Patriot Players at Patrick Henry Community College. Established in 2013, the troupe has already brought new awareness to the performing arts through flash mobs at area restaurants, character appearances throughout the community and free family performances to introduce new generations to the love of theatre. Prompted by the community’s enthusiasm for theatrical performances, Patrick Henry Community College began offering a General Studies Associate Degree program with a concentration in Performing Arts this fall.
Regardless of what role you take, on-stage, backstage, in the classroom or in the audience, the theatre is a great way to get involved in the community. According to Max Hall, a local, young professional, “I can't imagine my life in Martinsville without TheatreWorks. I'm a theatre geek and there's just no other experience like being on stage. It's also incredibly rewarding to be able to bring high quality theatre to a community that truly loves it. Not only that, but I've also made lifelong friends through theatre that I never would have met otherwise. Out of all my closest friends in Martinsville, I've met almost all of them at TheatreWorks. This organization is absolutely priceless for our community."
Save the Dates! Here is your guide to enjoying the performing arts in Martinsville-Henry County.
December 7 Roanoke Symphony Holiday Pops- Led by charismatic and upbeat Music Director David Stewart Wiley, Roanoke Symphony delights with timeless holiday favorites. Join in a brand new sing-along with Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Roanoke Symphony Chorus and a special guest performer. Tickets: $5-$25 (PAA)
February 2 Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till- In 1955, a 14-year-old black youth from Chicago traveled to Mississippi and entered a world of thick color lines and unspeakable taboos. Through conversations with a Look magazine journalist, Emmett’s mother and others caught up in the events that led to his devastating fate, this riveting one-man play by Mike Wiley tells of the gruesome fate that befell Emmett Till and the subsequent trial that helped ignite the Civil Rights movement. Tickets: $15 (PAA)
February 20-22 & 26-28 A Raisin in the Sun- Tensions and prejudice are faced by three generations of the Younger family in the NY Drama Critic’s Award winner. (TWCP)
March 21, 2015 Swingtime! - Direct from London, The Jive Aces are internationally renowned for their superior musicianship and spectacular stage show, not to mention their energetic renditions of Swing/Jive/R&B classics by greats like Cab Calloway, Bobby Darin, Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. But, the fun doesn’t stop with high-energy music. The Tinseltown Jitterbugs, a bevy of beautiful betties and cool cats, will bring fast-paced, high-flying swing dancing to the stage in a can’t miss combo. Tickets: $10-$25 Reserved (PAA)
April 23-25 & May 1-3 The Dixie Swim Club- Five southern women, friends from the college swim team, reunite each year to laugh and meddle in each other’s lives. (TWCP)
PAA – Piedmont Arts Association: On Stage, Performances at Various Locations, piedmontarts.org
PP- Patrick Henry Community College Patriot Players, 645 Patriot Avenue, Martinsville, patrickhenry.edu/patriotplayers
TWCP – TheatreWorks Community Players, 44 Franklin Street, Martinsville, twcp.net