Performing Arts Center gets ready for Broadway

Alison Ritchie

Kent State at Tuscarawas students no longer have to travel a far distance to see a Broadway show – instead, Broadway is coming to them.

The Tuscarawas campus will raise the red curtain of its new Performing Arts Center for its first production on Nov. 26. The center will bring more than international dancers, Broadway stars and popular comedians to the campus.

It will provide educational facilities, economic viability and entertainment outlets for Tuscarawas’ community.

“This performing arts center fits a need in the community, and we’re very good at helping out the community,” said Mike Morelli, general manager of the center.

“It was perceived that people needed a place to go see Broadway shows, touring shows and international shows, and we built a center that’s able to do that.”

The new building includes a 1,100-seat theater, a rehearsal room, a 368-seat lobby, two classrooms and faculty offices. The theater and lobby will be available to rent to the community for weddings, conferences and other events.

While the Tuscarawas campus currently does not offer any performing arts degrees, Pam Patacca, public relations coordinator for Tuscarawas campus, said the additional space allows for the inclusion of theater and music classes.

“As the center opens, (administrators) are planning new degree programs centered around the arts,” Patacca said. “There are several art degrees in discussion at this time.”

Two degrees in discussion are entertainment design and arts management, Patacca said.

Morelli said the center’s box office had a goal to sell a minimum of 500 season ticket packages, and it exceeded that goal within three days.

Patacca said it’s clear the performers scheduled for the center’s inaugural season are drawing attention.

The line-up includes comedian Bill Engvall, pianist Jim Brickman, Broadway show “Cats” and international dance troop “Lord of the Dance.” The first performance on stage will be one closer to home for the audience, though, as the center’s resident company, “The Tuscarawas Philharmonic,” performs with Cirque de la Symphonie.

“There will be acrobats, high-flying people and people flying on silks over the audience as the Tuscarawas philharmonic plays,” Morelli said. “It is going to be awesome. We’re just thrilled.”

While no student productions are scheduled, Patacca said the center will be eventually available for student use.

Shannon Bailey, the Student Activities Council advisor, said SAC members are considering several options for the performance center.

“It’s definitely going to be a great cultural thing for all our campus organizations,” she said.

Individual event tickets are now on sale. Kent State faculty and students will receive a $5 discount.

To view the Performing Arts Center schedule at Kent State Tuscarawas, click here.

Contact Alison Ritchie at [email protected].