For a city of approximately 83,000 people, Asheville offers a nice choice of places to see live theater. Some are community-based theaters, showcasing local acting talent and plays written by regional writers. Others bring producers, actors, directors and theater troupes from outside the Asheville, NC area to perform on local stages.
Asheville has a live theater scene that stands out among cities of similar size. Asheville Community Theatre (ACT) is celebrating over 60 years of theater productions, while the Montford Park Players, who produce Shakespeare in the Park, are approaching their fourth decade of bringing classic Shakespeare plays to new audiences. These, as well as other venues, reinforce Asheville’s widely acclaimed commitment to the arts.
To see what types of shows are scheduled for each season, check individual theater company websites.
North Carolina Stage Company (NCSC)
The North Carolina Stage Company (NCSC) opened in f95zone Downtown Asheville in 2002 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary of live theater. NCSC has an excellent reputation for providing some of the most adventurous live theater in Asheville. This theater has staged “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Angels in America,” among other popular titles. NCSC also supports local theater productions with The Catalyst Series, providing a professional stage, ticketing and some marketing services to smaller troupes without a permanent home.
Asheville Community Theatre (ACT)
The Asheville Community Theatre has been in town for over sixty years. There are two stages at ACT, the MainStage and 35 Below, a black box theater. The Mainstage plays are often Broadway and Off-Broadway shows with name recognition such as “To Kill and Mockingbird” and “Chicago.” These productions have a wide appeal for audiences because they are familiar classics. In 35 Below, theater crowds see locally produced plays. For visitors and locals who want a taste of local color, “Listen to This” is staged monthly and offers insightful and funny stories about homegrown characters in the Western North Carolina area.
Montford Park Players (MPP) Shakespeare Festival
The Montford Park Players (MPP) is an all-volunteer theater troupe that began in 1973. MPP was established to keep the Shakespeare tradition alive in Asheville. Each summer, The Montford Park Players performs a Shakespearean drama, comedy or tragedy in the outdoor stagehouse in the Montford section of Asheville. Attendance is free, though theatergoers are encouraged to make a $5 donation to contribute to staging costs. Productions run from May through September each year and are a popular way of passing a summer evening with family, friends, and loved ones. MPP has also recently added a winter Shakespeare show, so visitors and locals can celebrate the Bard year ’round.
Diana Wortham Theatre
The Diana Wortham Theatre is located at Pack Place, in the center of Downtown Asheville. The theater stages a variety of entertainment in addition to traditional theater performances such as music, dance, comedy, special attractions, young audiences and the Celtic Series. Live theater is usually performed by troupes originating in larger cities such as Los Angeles, New York or London. Productions range from well-known plays to scripts by emerging playwrights. Purchase tickets well in advance of shows to ensure seating.
The Magnetic Field/ The Magnetic Theatre
The newest addition to Asheville’s theater scene is The Magnetic Field, a café/bar with a black box theater attached. It is located on Depot Street, in the heart of the River Arts District. The Magnetic Theatre enthusiastically hosts productions of original plays written by contemporary playwrights. Works are often premiered here for the first time. Music, comedy and spoken word are also performed in the black box theater on a regular basis.
As any local or visitor to the Asheville area can readily see – the theater arts are alive and well. Regardless of age, size or reach of the theater venue, the local population and visitors continue to support it through donations, reviews and regular attendance to performances.