Let the show begin!

By Wendy Wood

January 18, 2014

YADKINVILLE — The 193-seat Willingham Theater at the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center opened only a year ago but in that brief time it has quickly garnered a reputation for quality performances and swiftly become a popular destination for intimate, professional theater, music, dance and film.

Ron Stacker Thompson, artistic director of the Willingham and chair of the screenwriting discipline at UNCSA said, “Our mission at the Willingham, where the performing arts are our passion, is to present the very best in variety and quality. Our enthusiastic audiences tell us we’re doing just that.”

The Willingham kicks off its Spring 2014 Series with the off-Broadway gospel spoof “Smoke on the Mountain,” one of the most widely produced shows worldwide. Opening performance night is Feb. 7 followed by two weekends of “Smoke.”

A new perk added this year for season ticket holders is preferred seating. They can choose their seats before the doors open for general seating. The season ticket includes all six performances of the season for a cost of $70.

In keeping with the commitment to variety, the Willingham showcases country music, jazz and Shakespeare during the month of April. Singer-songwriter duo The Malpass Brothers take the stage April 12, brilliantly fusing traditional, country and honky tonk into one amazing retro sound. Wear dancing shoes for a “Swing Era Extravaganza” by Ron Rudkin and the UNCSA Jazz Ensemble on April 26 as they recreate the excitement of the music of the ’30s and the ’40s.

“Twelfth Night,” on April 27, the bard’s comedic tale of gender-confusion and mistaken identity, is performed as a black box production by the talented UNCSA drama students, returning to the Willingham for a second season.

Dance is up next. The Pluck Project is back on May 3. These lithe and limber graduating choreographers will perform solo dances. The evening will culminate in a spectacular portrayal of dance on film.

Closing out the season on June 7 is Red June. Like their namesake heirloom apple variety, Red June has strong roots in the Appalachian tradition while constantly forging new ground in American music. A powerful acoustic trio from Asheville, performing beautifully distilled original American music, Red June is Will Straughan on resonator guitar, guitar and vocals, John Cloyd Miller on mandolin, guitar and vocals, and Natalya Weinstein on fiddle and vocals.

The Willingham continues to offer monthly classic movies on Saturdays at 1 p.m. free of charge.

Tickets to live performances can be purchased online at yadkinarts.org or by calling 679-2941.

The Yadkin Arts Council is a nonprofit 501(C)(3) organization dedicated to enriching the lives of Yadkin County citizens through the arts. Opening in September of 2010, the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center provides a home for the arts in Yadkin County. It encompasses the Welborn Gallery, the Willingham Theater, the Third Branch Café, classrooms and meeting rooms, staff offices, the YARD working artist studios, and the Center Gift Shop.

The Yadkin Arts Council also announced the launch of its redesigned website at www.yadkinarts.org. The site provides up-to-date information about existing and upcoming exhibits and offers forms and rules for artists wishing to submit art work for future exhibits and juried shows.