Plato once said, “I would teach children music, physics and philosophy, but above all music, for the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys to learning.”
Music, dance, theatre, comedy – the performing arts foster the growth and development of young creative minds and provide incalculable cultural value to the community as a whole. Once again, clients of all ages are hungry for opportunities to experience meaningful social connections.
Since its launch in 1986 at the former site of Grace Hospital, Morganton’s acclaimed CoMMA Performing Arts Center has presented a diverse selection of theatrical performances and entertainment to Burke County audiences.
“For a city of 17,000 people and for the quality of what we’re able to offer here, it’s a big deal to have this incredible asset within our community,” says Sharon Jablonski, Director of COMMA.
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Throughout its 36-year history, CoMMA’s sprawling front stage has hosted everything from nationally touring Broadway musicals, big-name concerts and ballet ice shows, regional competitions and showcases of local businesses. The Masters of Soul Motown tribute kicked off the 2022-23 season on September 22, which will conclude in May next year with a series of “Chicago”.
“There are 17 events in the current season package, with additional community activities and rentals bringing the total to 40,” says Amber Austin, events manager. “We expected ‘Chicago’ or ‘Stomp’ to be the most popular shows immediately, but one of our biggest sellers so far turns out to be ‘Lonestar’ which hits theaters on October 27.”
“The World Ballet Series: The Nutcracker is on sale now, and it’s going to be amazing,” says Jablonski. “We really try to mix up our offerings every year.”
The well-maintained 1,046-seat theater draws audiences not only from western North Carolina, but also from eastern Tennessee and as far afield as Virginia, South Carolina and Ohio.
In addition to its varied lineup of events, CoMMA is also home to the Etta Baker exhibit with a permanent sculpture that honors the legacy of the late Piedmont Blues style guitarist. A master plan study is underway to focus on and guide future improvements to the facility.
“We’ve collaborated with a variety of different groups, and we’re really excited to receive the first set of ideas,” Jablonski said. “More than 500 people participated in our survey, which is unprecedented – we thought we would be lucky to have 100! This shows how important the performing arts are to this community.
For this year’s performances, ticket prices vary by event, with season tickets and a $150 Girl’s Night Out package option including ‘The Second City: She the People’, ‘Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale’ ?” with Kelly Swanson, Hiplet Ballerinas and “On Your Feet!” The story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan. Austin urges customers to check out the schedule and show their support for CoMMA by choosing a show they may not be familiar with.
“It never hurts to try your hand at the arts and open yourself up to a new experience,” she says. “You’ll broaden your cultural horizons and you might be surprised to find something you like.”
For a complete schedule of upcoming CoMMA events, online ticket sales and other information, call 828.433.7469 or 800.939.7469, or visit commaonline.org.