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5 Things We Love About Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

“The performances are a must-see and are of Broadway quality.” - Leonard

#1 The Performances

One of our favorite things about Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre is the performances. With each group of performers, production crew, and team members we are blown away by the local talent in our community. Here at SART, we strive to present to our community seasons that are robust, challenging, and relatable to our audiences. With that being said, we’re so excited to present our 49th season. Our 2023 season will include...

The Azure Sky in Oz: The true stories of two women whose lives are changed by the neurodiverse. Starring MHU Theatre Arts Graduate and long-time SART company member, Amanda Ladd. Showing in rep May 18-28, 2023, alternating nights with Say Goodnight Gracie.

Say Goodnight Gracie: The life, laughter, and love of George Burns and Gracie Allen. The most successful one-man show in Broadway history about one of the greatest comic acts of all time. Featuring WNC favorite Pasquale LaCorte. Showing in rep May 18-28, 2023, alternating nights with The Azure Sky in Oz.

My Way: A musical tribute to Frank Sinatra. Containing a whopping 55 incredible songs from the Great American Songbook, My Way celebrates the mystique of Ol’ Blue Eyes and the unforgettable music and wit that made him famous. Showing June 8-18, 2023.

Church Basement Ladies: Set in rural Minnesota in the 1960s, this show is a celebration of the church basement kitchen and the women who work there. Featuring the return of our 2020 cast. Showing June 29-July 9, 2023.

Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge: A Bluegrass musical set in Prohibition-era Appalachia, this is a coming-of-age story about a slapdash murder, a whirlwind romance, and a most unlikely hero. Showing July 20-30, 2023.

One of our goals is to make professional high-quality theatre accessible for all in our area and for that reason, we love that we can offer all of our tickets for under $30.

“Best theater experience in the area, professional entertainment in an intimate setting, every play we have seen there has been outstanding.” - Ann

#2 The Location

Located in downtown Mars Hill, North Carolina, Southern Appalachian Theatre is located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. Whether it’s taking in the views of the Blue Ridge or enjoying the seasonal perks of our location like those gorgeous fall leaves, we love to call this area home.

SART is located just 20 minutes from Asheville, NC; 45 minutes from Hendersonville, NC; 45 minutes from Johnson City, TN; 1.5 hours from Boone, NC; 1.5 hours from Greenville, SC; and 2.5 hours from Charlotte, NC making it the perfect day trip wherever you’re visiting from.

And what’s a day trip without a bite to eat? We love to support our neighboring restaurants! Some of our favorites include The Stackhouse (Those burgers!), The Original Papa Nick’s (We can’t resist those garlic knots), Wagon Wheel (Truly feeds our hearts as well as our stomachs), and Camden’s Coffee House (The perfect afternoon pick me up!).

“Well put together. It's a small, intimate theater. They exceeded my expectations with their quality acting and set design. A definite recommendation for anyone considering a show there.” - Brian

#3 The History

We love the rich history of our theatre and our venue! Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre is located in the historic Owen Theatre which was constructed in April 1918 and originally served as Mars Hill Baptist Church. Founded in 1887, Mars Hill Baptist Church once held services in Mars Hill University’s main building. A one-third-acre lot was sold by local citizens to the church and a small building was constructed on the site in 1900. By 1907 however, church officials deemed the building unsafe and the congregation held their services on campus again until 1918.

In the early 1910s, church officials approved architectural plans for a new building but the church struggled to find funding until the arrival of Reverend Jesse R. Owen in 1914. Along with his role in the church, Rev. Owen also served as a faculty member and trustee of the College.

With his help, Mars Hill Baptist completed construction and on April 21, 1918, Rev. Owen held the first service in the new church. Mars Hill Baptist occupied the building until 1954 when they moved to a newly constructed building located on the corner of present-day Bailey and Main streets.

In preparation for the move, church officials agreed to sell the old church and adjoining parsonage to the college on May 5, 1953. Mars Hill College used the building as the campus chapel until 1968. Once religious services ended, the building was renamed Owen Theatre in honor of former college trustee and Mars Hill Baptist Church Rev. Jesse Owen and repurposed as the home for the theatre arts department.

Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre was founded in 1975 by director and theatre educator Jim Thomas. For many years, SART was a program of Mars Hill University (previously Mars Hill College). In 2003, Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre became an independent nonprofit organization. Since then, we’ve produced a number of shows including a handful of world premieres by playwrights local to the Western North Carolina region. What a history!

“Awesome venue! Hostesses and Hosts were extremely accommodating, helpful, and friendly!” - Sherri

#4 Our Mission

We love our mission to provide accessible inclusive theatre to the Western North Carolina area and we are proud to stand by it with everything we do. At Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre, we strive to cultivate an environment for all patrons and artists to safely experience art no matter what one’s background may be. As a theatre company, we are charged with healing the human spirit, telling the stories that matter, letting audiences walk with people they may never have the chance to meet, and stirring the well of emotions that lie within each of us. More than that, our job, our purpose is to make sure that we as a community of human beings have the opportunity to enrich and entertain our lives with this beautiful art form called live theatre.

We love that we’ve cultivated a staff proud to make that mission their mission and we’ve built a community that supports and stands with us. We love seeing our patron's faces during performances and joining in the conversations on our Facebook and Instagram pages. It is so incredible seeing our mission reflected with everyone involved with Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre.

“Talented group of professionals bringing life to the mountains of WNC.” - Tara

#5 Our Growth

In reflecting on our past seasons and looking ahead to future seasons, we are amazed and proud of the opportunities we had to bring safe and effective programming to Western North Carolina. While COVID-19 took a toll on the entertainment industry, we love the fact that we used that opportunity to be more compassionate, understanding, and adaptable.

With that adaptability, we created new virtual programming, launching our SART On-Demand content,

and released online content that featured some of the wonderful talents within our community.

Looking over the seasons of the past, we saw a need to include the younger generations in the magic of live theatre and with that launched our Theatre for Young Audiences program. We love that SART is an ever-changing, ever-growing organization and we can’t wait to see what opportunities come next.

Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre is such a special place for all involved and we could count 100 more reasons why we love it so! Do you love SART? Tell us why!

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