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Closing downtown stage, Playhouse touts Mainstage improvements

The Flat Rock Playhouse announced Friday that it is closing the Playhouse downtown and moving smaller productions and the Music on the Rock shows it has staged there for seven years to the Mainstage in Flat Rock.

 Dane Whitlock, director of marketing for the Playhouse, said the move allows the theater to consolidate production around and "make the Mainstage the main hub. There will be fewer Music on the Rock shows and "we'll still have opportunities for our kids" on the Flat Rock stage and possibly in a smaller "black box" space. Closing the downtown theater allows the theater to shift financial resources to the main theater, which will get new seating, a state of the art wireless hearing loop for those with hearing aids or cochlear implants and floor lighting to help patrons find their seats.

"When the seats were installed back in the '80s, there was not much attention to sight lines," Whitlock. "We'll stagger the seats and improve the sight lines. They're still going to be as wide but not as squeaky and not 60 years old."

A theater seating specialist from Wisconsin will install the new seats in time for the first performance of the 2019 season, a Music on the Rock show featuring music of the Eagles and the Beatles, on Valentines Day weekend. The full 2019 season will be announced at a special event at the Playhouse at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22.

Here’s the statement from Playhouse leaders to patrons:

We want to share some exciting news about things happening at Flat Rock Playhouse.
Starting with the 2019 season, we are bringing all productions home to the Mainstage in Flat Rock. We will not be renewing our lease at Playhouse Downtown after a great seven-year run. This consolidation will allow us to invest in some improvements to the Mainstage theatre that our patrons have been asking for including new seats (yes – all-new seats!) and a state-of-the-art Hearing Loop system, a wireless network for hearing aids. So why are we doing this?
The Mainstage campus in Flat Rock has been home to the Playhouse and its Vagabond Players since 1952. In 2011, we opened Playhouse Downtown, and it has served as the primary home for the Music on the Rock series along with our Family Programming shows. We have loved being in Downtown Hendersonville and deeply appreciate the support we’ve received.
We’ve also heard your feedback in our recent patron survey. Many guests prefer the simplicity of one venue (no more going to the wrong theatre for a performance), and many also prefer the additional parking available at the Mainstage. For the Playhouse, it is more cost-effective to manage just one venue, and we have to keep our eye on the bottom line. Playhouse Downtown will still be open for the rest of the 2018 season.
As we bring everything home to the Mainstage for next season, we want to make it an even better experience for you. The survey told us people want more comfortable seats. We get that…the current seats are 60 years old! So, we are installing all-new padded, upholstered seats. We’ve tried them, and they are awesome. With the new seat installation, sight lines will be improved, and we’ll add soft aisle lighting so it’s easier to find your seat. Plus, we’re installing new carpeting. Yes, it’s about time for that too.
For people who need hearing assistance we’re adding a state-of-the-art Hearing Loop system that will provide direct audio access for hearing aids and/or cochlear implants. People have told us our current system isn’t up to snuff. This new system will also make the Mainstage ADA compliant.
We’ll be making these improvements, and a few more, in time for next season. And speaking of next season, we will hold a special season preview on Monday, October 22 at the Mainstage at 7 p.m. You’ll hear about our 2019 shows before we announce them to the public, and we'll also have a chance to show you our new seats! Mark your calendar now and watch for more details in October.
As we wrap up performances at Playhouse Downtown, we want to thank everyone who has supported us there. Don’t forget…we still have four shows playing downtown before the end of the year. And as we look forward, we hope you share our excitement about bringing everything back to Mainstage next year and making your visit there even better.
With thanks and appreciation,
Your friends at Flat Rock Playhouse
PS. Get your tickets for The Glass Menagerie on the Mainstage which just opened last night and is STUNNING! AND one of the final chances for you to get to see a Music on the Rock at the Playhouse Downtown...DISCO!