The Arts

THE SHOW GOES ON | Blumenthal Continues to Serve the Community During Uncertain Times

Spring/Summer 2020

In the last few months, the world has changed in ways few people could have ever predicted. Every person and every business has been affected by the worldwide pandemic. How does a performing arts organization – a business dedicated to bringing people together – continue to function in the midst of a public health crisis in which social distancing is the new normal?


Here’s a look at how Blumenthal Performing Arts has managed to continue operating, retain its staff, care for its customers, and even successfully launch sales for its biggest Broadway season ever. At the heart of this behind-the-scenes production has been preparation, collaboration and innovation.

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Local Couple Will See Their Own Story Brought to Life in Broadway Musical, Come From Away

December 10, 2019

Phyllis and Jim Knubel haven’t yet seen the musical COME FROM AWAY, inspired by the incredible generosity of a small Canadian town during 9/11, but they already know the story by heart.

That’s because they lived it.

The Knubels, who retired a few years ago to York, SC, were aboard one of the 38 planes, carrying more than 6,500 passengers, diverted to Gander, Newfoundland when the terrorist attacks on 9/11 took place. The town’s population nearly doubled overnight and for the better part of a week, residents did all they could to support the physical, social and emotional needs of the “plane people.”

What the Knubels experienced in Gander affected them deeply; the people they met showed profound kindness, empathy and selflessness. Some have also become treasured friends.

“It’s not something that my husband and I would ever forget,” says Knubel. “When we talk about it, we always cry. How from that disaster, people we didn’t know in another country could come together and take care of all those people.”

Here’s how their real-life experience unfolded, as told by Phyllis Knubel:

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When Things Go Wrong: Real Life Tales of Backstage & Onstage Drama

November 19, 2019

Picture this: it’s September 2008 and you’re at the press night in Los Angeles for the pre-Broadway run of the new musical 9 to 5. There’s a full house, including celebrities, industry VIPs and 350 members of the media. Suddenly, in the midst of a big scene change, everything on stage stops.

The house lights come up halfway while the crew jumps into action to solve the problem. Tom Gabbard—Blumenthal’s CEO and one of the producers of the show—is there with his wife, Vickie. They are seated a couple rows directly behind the original film’s stars and can see Dolly Parton, taking advantage of the delay, scooting over to chat with actor Dabney Coleman, who played the film’s famously misogynistic boss. Just then a voice rings out over the crowd. It’s Vickie Gabbard with a spontaneous idea: “Dolly, sing something!”

So she does.

Parton, who wrote the music and lyrics for the show, steps out into the aisle and a nearby soundman brings her a handheld mic. She riffs for a few minutes on how much she’s enjoyed working on her first Broadway musical and her respect for her co-creatives. Then she leads the audience in singing the 9 to 5 title song. About 20 minutes go by and Parton is still entertaining. She’s about to sing “I Will Always Love You,” when she gets the signal that the show is back up and ready to go.

Just another night at the theater, where anything and everything can happen!

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Behind the Scenes With Sir Matthew Bourne – Cinderella

January 2019

Following last season’s hit, The Red Shoes, Blumenthal Performing Arts welcomes another sumptuous production form Britain’s most celebrated choreographer, Matthew Bourne. Cinderella – a tale that also has iconic, sparkling shoes at its center – is retold in a way that only Bourne and his New Adventures dance theatre company could do it.

The imaginative production, set as a love story in London during World War II, kicks off the U.S. portion of its international tour at Charlotte’s Belk Theater Jan. 6-12. Only a few select cities will get the chance to see this show as it continues to Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center and the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

“We love Charlotte, and we’re excited to share this with them,” says Bourne, who credits Blumenthal president Tom Gabbard with helping to develop the special relationship between this world-renowned company and local audiences.

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Caroline Calouche & Co. Flying High

September 19, 2018

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No matter how they make our hearts soar, most dance companies remain physically earthbound. Not so for Caroline Calouche & Co., Charlotte’s own aerial dance and contemporary group and one of Blumenthal’s resident arts companies. Melding various styles of dance, from ballet and hip hop to Capoeira and circus arts, this group flies high as it creates new possibilities in dance

Unlimited possibilities are something important to Artistic & Executive Director Caroline Calouche, who spent much of her childhood climbing trees, riding her bike and playing sports outdoors with her two brothers.

“Trying a lot of things when you’re young is really good,”  Calouche says, “And see what clicks with you and for life.

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The Funny Guys:  CHARLOTTE SQUAWKS’ Brian Kahn and Mike Collins will make you laugh

Spring/Summer 2011

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Did you hear the one about the lawyer and the news radio show host who keep writing irreverent musical parodies together? It sounds like the beginning of a well-worn joke but it’s not. This is a true story about the brains behind the hilarious show CHARLOTTE SQUAWKS, making its seventh appearance in the Queen City this summer. Get ready to laugh when an all new production of CHARLOTTE SQUAWKS debuts at the Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, June 10-25.

From sports and pop culture to news and politics, the writing team of Brian Kahn and Mike Collins creates an original show that pokes fun at everything and everyone it can.

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