SPECIAL REPORT: The State of CLT Stages
As you know, we pride ourselves on serving you Biscuits each week that are chock full of the wide array of creative flavors, personalities and projects that make the Queen City creative community so rich and vibrant. Today, we’re doing something a little different.
No one in Charlotte has gone through COVID-19 untouched. From The Evening Muse to the Belk Theatre, our stages have been quiet. And, the creatives who make their living and share their work with the world on those stages have experienced incredible difficulties.
But, they are undaunted. They are innovating. They are fighting back. They are gathering other creatives around them. They are working together. They are finding ways to help all of us. We’re confident they will once again be alive with color, song, dance and light. That said, they need our help.
Please take some time today and tomorrow to read the stories below and get involved with our stages. Sign a student up for Teen Actor’s Lab, make a donation, buy a work of art from the Neighborhood Theatre’s auction or support the Save Our Stages Act.
These are just glimpses of everything that our theaters are doing right now to stay alive for the future. Our stages have given all of us so many wonderful moments over the years. They need our love as they experience a moment now.
– Matt Olin & Tim Miner
Teen Actor’s Lab students tour the front and back of the house at Belk Theater.
Students Study, Socialize and Share the Stage in Safety at the Teen Actor’s Lab
In response to requests from parents and theater teachers, Blumenthal Performing Arts has launched Blumenthal Teen Actor’s Lab, a theater-centric, in-person learning hub for students in sixth through 12th grades. This full-day (7:45AM – 5:45PM) program gives students the ability to attend school virtually, socialize with one another and engage in a wide array of theater programs in a socially distanced environment. Enrollment is open now.
MATT OLIN EDITORIAL: A Lifelong Love Affair with the Stage
“What happens on live stages – community theaters, performing arts centers, independent concert halls and more – are irreplaceable experiences for those on and off the stage. With due respect to the virtual platforms that we’re all relying on during the pandemic, the energy created between live performers and a live audience during a show is a uniquely human necessity. It connects us, inspires us, opens our eyes.”
Ever since Sandy Duncan sailed above his head when he was a boy, Charlotte Is Creative co-founder and co-publisher of The Biscuit, Matt Olin, has been enchanted by the stage. He even acted in Theatre Charlotte’s production of The Odd Couple earlier this year, which was one of the last shows to finish its run before COVID-19 quieted our theaters. Today, Matt shares his passion for the performing arts and the pain of seeing the stages he loves go silent. (Plus, you get to see a picture of him when he was in high school.)
PHOTO STORY: The State of Our Stages
Stages need people. Audience banks need people. Backstages need people. Sound and light booths need people. Box offices need people. Without people, it’s just not the same.
To illustrate this, The Biscuit commissioned Charlotte photographer, Heather Liebler, to bring her lens to six of the empty stages of our city – the McGlohon Theater, the Knight Theater, Theatre Charlotte, the Neighborhood Theatre, the theater at Northwest School of the Arts, and the Sandra Levine Theatre at Queens University. We asked Heather to capture the perspective of both the audience member and the performer. We also asked the men and women who manage these stages to speak for them.
Staging a Comeback: The Neighborhood Theatre’s Old Stage is the Foundation of an Art Auction
“Our name says it all: a neighborhood, a community, a family. Art comes in many forms and music is one of them. It connects and inspires us. The Neighborhood Theatre is a part of NoDa’s art and creative history. When COVID struck our community, live music was first to go and will be one of the last to return. Our future is uncertain, but we won’t go down without a fight.” – Tory Johnson, The Neighborhood Theatre
Just before COVID-19 hit, the stage at the Neighborhood Theatre was damaged. Now, that old floor is giving the theatre new life. Visual artists from across the Queen City are creating works of art on sections of the stage, which is being replaced. These works will be part of an online auction to raise funds for the theatre starting September 17.
Tory Johnson, floor manager at the Neighborhood Theatre, shared information with us about the auction and their staff’s passion to keep going in the midst of a crisis.
The McGlohon Theatre is one of the gems of Heather Liebler’s “Stage of Our Stages” photo story above. But, before it was one of Charlotte’s most prestigious and hardest-working stages, it had a very different life.
Built in 1908, the building that now houses the McGlohon and is part of Spirit Square was the First Baptist Church until the 1970s, when the congregation moved to a larger facility. With its intricate stained glass windows and Byzantine dome, it was too precious to fall into ruin.
After a renovation, it opened in January 1980 with a new name and purpose — an 800-seat theatre named NCNB Performance Place. Blumenthal Performing Arts took over the facility in 1997 and renamed it Loonis McGlohon Theatre in 1998 after Charlotte’s legendary jazz pianist Loonis McGlohon.
The image above is part of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room’s postcard collection. It was printed in 1948 and shot by photographer AM Simon. It was donated by Arthur F. Black.
Directions: 345 N College Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
Don’t go ’round hungry. If you missed the last batch of The Biscuit, don’t worry. We’ve kept it warm for you. This batch features stories about:
- Woodworker Irene Nguyen’s tale of building a giant “Resist Fist” for Tip Top Market
- The ASC supporting 24 artists and groups with Cultural Vision Grants
- Yard Art Day adds color to Labor Day again this Year
- A “Who Built Me” podcast with WFAE reporter Sarah Delia
- A Biscuit Blitz chat with BOLTGROUP’s Chris Cureton
- Artist Georgie Nakima on CBS This Morning
- A memorial for Chadwick Boseman by Jonathan McFadden
Click here to dig in, y‘all.
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