Ensemble Stage has moved its professional theater productions to downtown Banner Elk after seven years in Blowing Rock.
The group has established permanent residence at the Historic Banner Elk School and will give performances throughout the year. Its previous location at the Blowing Rock School auditorium limited performances to summer break and other school holidays.
“We’ve always wanted to do things year-round,” says Gary Smith, artistic director for Ensemble Stage. “We want people anytime of year to say, ‘Ensemble Stage has something going on in Banner Elk. Let’s go there.’”
The Town of Banner Elk partnered with Ensemble Stage to bring the highly-regarded theater troupe to the town-owned historic school.
“The town is very excited about them coming to our area,” says Banner Elk Mayor Brenda Lyerly. “They love the facilities, and we’re all in unison in thinking this is going to be wonderful for the entire community.”
Ensemble Stage uses the school’s gymnasium for its performance space. The group will continue to make improvements, such as adding a new stage, lighting system and risers with seats. The risers will be removable, allowing the space to be used for other functions.
The group opens its Mainstage season June 16. Ensemble Stage’s plays will complement Lees-McRae College’s Summer Theatre series, which consists of musicals.
“People will be able to come into town and have a weekend of theater,” Smith says. “They can see a show one day and a completely different show the next and stay in Banner Elk and eat at the restaurants and shop downtown. We’re going to add to the fact that Banner Elk is an arts mecca for the High Country, and we’re excited to be a part of that.”
To learn more about Ensemble Stage, visit www.EnsembleStage.com.