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Downtown theater announces ambitious lineup for 2020 season

Jeanie Linders describes the 2020 season of shows as creative artistic director Andy Fiacco and group sales director Tami Manton look on. Jeanie Linders describes the 2020 season of shows as creative artistic director Andy Fiacco and group sales director Tami Manton look on.

The Center for Art and Entertainment on Wednesday announced an ambitious 2020 lineup of mainstage shows, musicals and murder mysteries, plus CarPlay — 15 original 10-minute plays featuring two actors in the front seat of a car performing for the “audience” in the backseat — and a high school performance featuring actors on rollerskates. 

 

Founding producer Jeanie Linders announced the season’s offerings to the local press and theater supporters nine months after she opened the performance space at 125 S. Main St., the former Flat Rock Playhouse Downtown venue.
Linders, whose Menopause: The Musical has been performed around the world since for more than 15 years, also announced a modest rebranding of the performance business, from the Center for Art and Inspiration to the Center for Art and Entertainment.
The lineup of shows, magical acts, author talks and educational events brings local audiences events that they can get nowhere else.
“I get that Hendersonville is a small town because I came from a small town,” she said. “But there’s no reason you can’t bring big town experiences. They’re not doing this in Buncombe and they’re not doing this in other areas around.”
Acknowledging that some performances in the center’s inaugural season worked and some didn’t, she said the 2020 lineup was the product of more research and a better understanding of the local appetite for entertainment.
“I can guarantee you we’re not canceling shows this year because we’ve worked really hard in creating a perfect season,” she said.
The 2020 lineup includes:

  • Game Show, March 19-22, 26-29: Set during a live broadcast of a long-running TV game show, the theater audience becomes the studio audience, watching the broadcast of the show. “Then we turn the set around and you see the back-stabbing and conniving” of the contestants backstage, Andy Fiacco, the center’s creative artistic director.

  • Bathhouse to Broadway, April 3-4: A Bette Midler tribute show.
  • The Lost Virginity Tour, April 16-18, 23-25: Ladies of the Happy Trails Senior Resort Living in Surprise, Arizona, swap tales about their “first time” in a story of friendship, heartache, regrets and first love. An original show, Linders says it will debut here and then go on the road.
  • CarPlay: Theatre Behind the Wheel, May 7-9, 14-16, 21-23: Features 15 orginal plays in 15 cars. The audience moves from car to car for a series of sketches, from dogs waiting for their owners to whatever else the playwrights create.
  • Murder Studio 53½, June 5-6, Nov. 6-7: An original interactive murder mystery created by Fiacco.
  • Flag Football, June 12-13: A Pride Week fundraiser for Youth OutRight, an LGBT support group, featuring the Flag Football documentary.
  • The Victory Dolls, June 25-27: Musical tribute to the Andrews Sisters, Vera Lynn, Bing Crosby and other World War II-era performers. A fundraiser for Blue Ridge Honor Flight and the Veterans Healing Farm.
  • Starlight Express, July 15-18, 22-25, 29-Aug. 1: A child’s train set magically comes to life and competes with other locomotives to become the “fastest engine in the world,” with the young actors all on roller skates, a collaboration of area high school drama departments.
  • Solitary Man: A Tribute to Neil Diamond, Aug. 6-8: Phillip Bauer and his Band recreate the sound and excitement of a live Neil Diamond concert.
  • The Full Monty, Aug. 20-22, 27-29: The hit Broadway show about unemployed steelworkers from Buffalo creating a bold way to make some quick cash.
  • The Phantom’s Masquerade Ball, Sept. 26: The center’s masked gala fundraiser featuring dining, dancing, internationally acclaimed countertenor Terry Barber and a silent auction.
  • Blue Cheese Festival, Oct. 16: The second annual salute to southern mountains cheesemakers, plus the blues.
  • A Grand Night for Singing, Oct. 23-24: A tribute to the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein.


The theater also plans a Christmas 2020 show, yet to be decided. Still ahead this year are The Marvelous Mrs. Megastar, a musical comedy, Nov. 15-16, and Who Kidnapped Mrs. Claus?!, a family holiday show, Dec. 6-7, 13-14 and 20-21.

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Tickets are $39-45, with a couple of exceptions. Season ticket packages are $135 for Pick 3, $200 for a half season and $395 for all 10 shows. For tickets call 828-697-8547 or visit thecenterai.com.