Aug. 24. Save the date! HART celebrates its 35th anniversary with a big bang of a birthday bash!

In 1984 HART began a phenomenal run, which continues today, as one of WNC's premier regional theatres. Whether you saw "The King and I" in 1984, or were in the audience for 2019's "Oliver", or enjoyed some of the 350 productions in between, you've been entertained royally by Haywood County's home-grown theatre.

Haywood County has always been kind to the performing arts. Few if any old-timers still remain who remember when Lake Junaluska's open-sided Stuart Auditorium--long before windows were added-- was home to such chestnuts as Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance.

Much later, in the late 1950s, a bunch of wanna-be thespians who were bitten by the acting bug after being cast in their senior high school plays, got together and said, "Let's put on a show!" With the help of a young lady named Bebe Abel, they did just that.

Then, in 1977, Waynesville's Recreation Department under the direction of Joe Turner received a $5,000 fine arts grant from the state. It came with a caveat.

To get the money, Waynesville had to have an arts council. It didn't.

Waynesville's then-mayor Henry Clayton quickly appointed one. Founding Arts Council members included Art Dingee, Beverly Smith, Bebe Abel, Clifton Metcalf, Richard Trevarthen, ; Jean Ann Bradley Cline, Marie Grasty, Leigh Crocker, Carolyn Clayton; Joseph Nanney, and Mary Ann Enloe.

With the Arts Council established, its drama committee began producing major shows on a shoestring: The King and I, Tea for Two, Oklahoma, South Pacific, The Miracle Worker (produced on the Thomas Wolfe stage under the direction of Cheryl Arp, Haywood Community College's first visiting artist). and others.

By 1984, the drama committee of the Arts Council had outgrown venues such as the Waynesville and Canton armories, Hazelwood School Auditorium, the unremodeled Strand Theatre, and church basements. Splashy productions had become too expensive for the small group to stage. New Arts Council members with vision were replacing old ones who were having to do everything from sewing the costumes to sweeping the floors. It was clear the drama committee had to grow up or go home. To everybody's relief, HART was born.

In the late 1980s Arts Council member James Roy Moody of the Haywood Community College staff hired Steve Lloyd. The rest is remarkable history.

Come celebrate that remarkable history Aug. 24. Be entertained by everything from jugglers to Mark Jones as Buddy Holly. Hear Steve Wall reprise The Impossible Dream from his role in The Man of La Mancha. HART's own Dolly, Lyn Donley, will be singing So Long Dearie. Stephen Gonya will bring down the house again with Mame. And that's just part of the party.

Before dinner, (served under large tents on the lawn,) ticket-holders will be greeted with complimentary champagne and appetizers and other surprises. After celebratory performances by HART talent on the Main Stage of the Performing Arts Center, dessert and dancing will follow in the Daniel & Belle Fangmeyer Theatre. The evening's 17-piece band is Ovations, featuring soloist Marta Christmas.

HART was voted the best Community Theatre in North Carolina for 2019. Remember, on Aug. 24, HART is the place to be!

Tickets on sale now. $125 per person.

Celebration Committee: Glenn Arnette, Revah Anzaldua, Lyn Donley, Libba Feichter, John Highsmith, Lise Hoffman, Emily McCurry, outgoing HART Board Chair Bonnie Smith, and Mieko Thomas.

Mary Ann Enloe is a life-long Hazelwood resident who has been active in local government and the arts. She has served as mayor of Hazelwood, a Haywood County Commissioner, was a founding member of the Haywood County Arts Council and has been active in numerous other activities and organizations through the years. She covers arts and entertainment issues in Haywood County, especially bluegrass, and is a writer for The Biltmore Beacon.

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