Bringing Broadway Performances to the Emerald Coast
Popular among critics is the belief that performing arts will eventually become obsolete given the rise in television and Internet consumption. While walking the halls of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center, it is undeniable that such opinions bare little weight. With a full event calendar appealing to all ages, the modern performing arts complex is a thriving hub for artistic expression.
Founded in 1997, the non-profit Mattie Kelly Arts Center is the Emerald Coast’s premier entertainment and cultural venue. Housed on the Niceville campus of Northwest Florida State College, the $25 million performing arts and educational complex boasts a 1,650 seat mainstage theater, a 195-seat, flexible Sprint Theater, an art wing with two galleries, the 130 seat Tyler Recital Hall, a visual arts building, and an amphitheater with the capacity to seat 2,500. “The Center is the only venue of its kind on the panhandle equipped to bring national Broadway tours to the area. We give our community an experience they would only get in the big city,” says Jeanette Shires, Director of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center. “We have state-of-the-art acoustics, and because of the venue’s wide-angle, there is a clear view of the stage from every vantage point. There simply is not a bad seat in the house.”
The Mattie Kelly Performing Arts – Home to the NWFL Symphony Orchestra
The Center is home to the Humanities, Fine & Performing Arts Division of the college, as well as the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, which is beginning its 33rd season, the Northwest Florida Ballet, and two art galleries.
Celebration, exploration, and giving back to the community are on the Center’s list of resolutions for 2020. With an exciting year ahead, patrons are invited to enjoy famous guest speakers, symphonies, art exhibitions — and the welcoming of a new maestro to lead the symphony.
As the search for a new conductor continues, six guest conductors will work with the professional musicians from the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. “The anticipation level is high,” beams Shires. “This is surely something that does not happen every year. Our musicians love to play, and to be able to have this opportunity [to work under various conductors] is quite unusual. Our musicians will experience different conducting styles, and the community will experience different artistic performances.”
Conductor Steven Byess from Los Angeles will lead the March 7 concert “Dance! The Music of Beethoven and Bernstein.” The March concert will feature Bernstein’s West Side Story and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. In April, Boston-based conductor David Hoose will lead the concert “Stars of Tomorrow/Evening at the Opera,” with performances from the winners of the Center’s 33rd annual Concerto Competition held last November.
There are also two large art exhibitions during the first part of the year. Between January 27 and February 28, the Center will feature Deborah Masters: Ghosts. Then the popular Arnie Hart Juried Student Exhibit & Arts Faculty Exhibition runs from March 28 to May 1. “The exhibition is presented annually due to the generosity of Arnie Hart’s family,” said Shires. “Mr. Hart was a former professor in the Humanities Division, and we are so pleased to turn the spotlight on the art created by the college’s students, faculty, and staff.”
The beautiful art galleries at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center are free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 90 minutes prior to mainstage performances. Ticket pricing for Broadway shows, concerts, and cultural events vary and are available through the Mattie Kelly Arts Center Box Office. Additionally, the facilities are also available to rent. A portion of all ticket sales helps fund performing arts scholarships at the college.
Mattie Kelly Arts Center Box