Ok now you have tickets for the big show, but now where do I have to be at? Now you may wonder why wouldn’t you know where to go. But it isn’t as easy at that. Especially when it comes to the performing arts center. So to help you with the confusion here is a guide to the venues.
The performing arts
This is where most of the confusion comes in. I know more than one person who has arrived at 7:55 for an 8:00 Broadway show only to discover the show was at Ovens Auditorium which is about 20 minutes away. The reason is most of the shows are held at Blumenthal so most people assume they all are.
Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
In November 1992, after 3 years of construction, Charlotte finally had a state of the art performing arts center with Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. The center is home of the Stanford Lights Broadway series and is where most of the shows are performed. In addition the center is home to the Charlotte Symphony, Opera Carolina, NC Dance Theater, Carolina Voices, Carolina Concert Association, ArtsTech, Light Factory, and Community School of the Arts.
The main theater here is the Belk Theater. The theater holds 2,100 patrons I love this place because they have those delightful box seats which make it easy to quickly pop in and out during a show. The show is set up in a horse shoe configuration for optimal acoustics. The seats in the back are still only 135 feet from the stage. The center also includes Booth Playhouse which seats 434 people and the Stage Door which seats 100. The center has 2 levels with bathrooms and concessions on each level. Belk Theater also now allows patrons to enjoy their beverages in their sets and they have where you can order and pay for your drink before the show and then pick it up during intermission.
Parking There are numerous PAID parking lots in the downtown area. The most commonly used is the Bank of America parking deck across from the theater. At one time there was a walkway from the parking deck to the building. Currently the deck is undergoing major construction and at some point the walkway will be available again. There are also numerous other parking lot in the area and parking meters on the street.
Charlotte has recently started use of their light rail system. Many people like to park at Seventh Street Station which also has restruants and then take the light rail which lets off near the theater. For more information on that go to http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/CATS/About+Us/home.htm.
You can pre pay for parking when you purchase your tickets when you purchase your ticket and it includes parking at the Bank of America Parking and several others.
Dining options . For a nice time out before the show , Charlotte offers plenty of dining options. Restruants within walking distance include the Buckhead Saloon, Fuel Pizza, Aquivina, Sonoma, RiRa Irish Pub, Mimosa Grill, and Brixx Pizza. And if you want to leave the work to someone else, well you can also purchase dinner packages when you purchase your tickets as well.
What your tickets should say if you’re going here: Belk Theater 130 N Tyron.
Now most of the shows these season perform at Belk except Legally Blond the musical and RENT. This year there are some great shows coming including Chicago, Mama Mia, Riverdance, The Color Purple, Burn the Floor, and Phantom of the Opera . For more information go to www.blumenthalcenter.org.
There is nothing that upsets people more than when they look and see they have to go to Ovens Auditorium to see a show. It’s a combination of the location, the parking, and for me the fact it doesn’t have my box seats. I like being able to move out quietly when the ladies room comes calling.
The theater is over 40 years old and has recently been renovated. But unlike a lot of other theaters that have been restored to their former glory, there is just nothing spectacular about this place. The theater isn’t glamorous and just basic. The building can accommodate over 2,400 theater goes. Which is why it is often used instead of the Belk Theater. It holds 385 more people allowing even more fans to see their favorite show. So when shows such as Wicked or next year with Legally Blond are expected to sell out, they use Ovens to have more room. I was also told by one art center employee that Ovens has a bigger stage and shows like Wicked with massive stages could not fit into Blumenthal. That one I have my doubts about. While I don’t know the exact specs of either The Lion King or Wicked , I would certainly think The Lion King stage was as big or bigger than Wicked . The only good thing about the place is the way the floor rises. Even when you have seats at the back of the floor you can still see the stage without any problems.
Parking Ovens does have its own paid parking lot. Part of the problem is there are only two entrances to leave from and it empties out a major road in Charlotte. Heaven forbid there also happens to be something going on next door at Cricket Arena and/or The Merchandise Center all which share the same parking lot. Just like at Blumenthal you can pre pay for parking when you purchase your ticket.
Dining options . Again with the location. Ovens’ is located on Independence Blvd with not much around. Since Valentino’s left years ago about the only thing close by is a Denny’s. There is an Olive Garden not to far from the building, but since it about the only place around to eat there is always a very long wait. There are some places near Eastland Mall. Over the years though this place has just continued to decline and I wouldn’t recommend the area after dark. You can purchase dinner packages with the Ovens shows, but they will be downtown. There is plenty of food to be found uptown, further down on Independence, or off Albemarle Rd. If you’re going to eat before the show just make sure to leave out in plenty of time.
Your ticket should say: Ovens Auditorium 2700 E. Independent Blvd.
Now some smaller shows will perform at Spirit Square. This is where I saw Idina Menzel and in the past shows such as Rockapella and flamenco dancers and where I saw renowned author and criminal profiler, John Douglas, speak. This center actually started life in 1909 as the First Baptist Church. In the 1970 the congregation moved to another church but wanted the historical building to remain. Amazingly enough Charlotte didn’t bulldoze it and instead in 1976 turned it into arts center. In 1997 it became part of Blumenthal.
The McGlohen Theater holds 716 theater goers. This is part of the original church and the theater once served as the sanctuary. The incredibly beautiful stained glass windows have been left in tact and add to the beauty of this unique venue. Now in additional to the beauty another great thing is with less than a thousand people it is a more intimate experience. When you have someone like Idina who sits down to talk with her audience it really does allow the performer and their audience to connect. Also there is not a bad seat in the house. Also part of Spirit Square is the Duke Energy Center which holds 182.
Parking Spirit Square does have its own parking lot but the parking is very limited. Since it is only about a 5 minute walk from Blumenthal, you can park in all the same places for Blumenthal.
Dining Just check Blumenthal above since the same restruants are nearby.
What your ticket will say: McGlohen or Duke Energy Center 345 N. Collage Ave.
Now Charlotte is quite active in the arts and lots of shows are going on all the time. There are a number of smaller venues throughout the city as well. They especially come into play with events like the Novello Fest or Shout which are coming up over the next few months. So don’t assume, always check where you show is playing.