PO Box 2274
Banner Elk, NC 28604 Phone 828-414-1844
Ensemble Stage is a 501 (c) 3 Nonprofit Corporation. All donations are tax deductible
Learn more about our mission, history, staff,
board members and affiliations
The mission and purpose of Ensemble Stage is three-fold:
•To provide the residents of The High Country and its visitors, a broad range of live theatrical presentations of the highest possible quality at an affordable price. •To inspire, challenge and nurture the imagination and social skills of youths and adults through theatre-based educational programs. •To be an active part of the cultural growth of our community through collaboration with residents, local businesses and other not for profit organizations.
Ensemble Stage, a 99-seat Professional Theater, was conceived out of an unfaltering love of the performing arts and the unquenchable desire to share it with the North Carolina High-Country Community.
Since October, 2009, Ensemble Stage has:
- presented over 80 productions (plays, holiday shows and special events) with over 300 performances
- sold over 21,000 show tickets
- hired over 150 performers, as well as more than 40 designers and technical crew personnel
- trained over 100 students, ages 5-16, in theatrical and presentation techniques
- accumulated nearly 100 dedicated annual donors and 146 annual subscribers
A Kansas City, Mo. native, Gary is a US Army Veteran and spent 20 years as a law enforcement officer on the federal, county and municipal levels. Since becoming a full-time, professional actor and stage director in 1999, he has appeared in numerous national and regional television and radio commercials, narrated or acted in many industrial and independent films, and appeared on stage in over forty
Gary Smith - Artistic Director
professional theater productions across the country. As a stage director, Gary has directed nearly 100 professional theatre productions throughout the North, Midwest and Southeast regions of the country. He also spent two years as the artistic director of the award winning, Teen Time Theatre. A touring theatre troupe comprised solely of teen-aged actors who performed message driven plays for their peers in high schools across the state of Florida.
Lisa Lamont - Managing Director
Lisa has worked extensively in theatre and film from sweeping the stage to producing. She has been a part of the production team on numerous television series and movies including "The Specialist" starring Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone. Her small screen production credits include the mini-series', "South Beach" and "Drug Wars." As a member of Actors’ Equity Association since 1989, she has
Stage Managed over 150 productions with venues across the country, including the national tour of "Aida", Zoetic Stage, Caldwell Theatre, Hollywood Playhouse, Gables Stage, Blowing Rock Stage Company and Florida Repertory Theater. Lisa was also a primary member of the creative staff for the development of Charles Nelson Reilly's one-man play, "Save It For the Stage" and toured as the Production Stage Manager for the show.
In October 2009, Ensemble Stage presented their first production, the Orson Welles’ staged radio play, War of the Worlds , to a sold out crowd in the Blowing Rock School Auditorium. It was also broadcast on the radio by WASU on October 30th & 31st.
In December, Ensemble Stage incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit corporation and produced their first Holiday Musical Variety Show, Christmas in Blowing Rock.
In January 2010, Ensemble Stage produced 3 offerings during Blowing Rock’s Winterfest: Echo Park in Concert and 2 interactive Game Shows: The Match Game& Not Necessarily The Newlywed Game.
June through December was very busy. Ensemble Stage held it’s first children's summer theatre camp, Theatre As Part of The Community. The young participants, ages 9-13, met with community leaders and wrote a wonderful, short play that incorporated what they learned about promoting the value of volunteerism in their community. Also presented, were two fully produced plays, a new Interactive Murder Mystery & Dinner, a Halloween Staged Radio Play and a holiday variety show, Christmas in Blowing Rock 2.
In 2011, Ensemble Stage increased the Summer Season's presentations to four plays and began cultivating a subscription base. Ensemble Stage began an annual fundraising Donor Campaign, increased Summer children's theatre camp offerings to two camps, began the Children’s Theater Program; Saturday Kid’s Theatre Series, added a holiday staged radio play at the end of November and finished the year with Christmas in Blowing Rock 3.
By 2013, Ensemble Stage realized the company's growth had reached beyond the limited availability and restrictions of the Blowing Rock School Auditorium for productions. The Board of Directors began a search for a permanent home.
In April, Ensemble Stage partnered with Crippen’s Restaurant to present an interactive, late night Murder Mystery during The Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival. This partnering resulted in a sold out audience for "murder," wine tastings and a dessert buffet, with a waiting list of 40 people.
In May, Ensemble Stage launched their first fundraising campaign- The Founder’s Century Club.
May also brought a one night only performance of Senator Sam, an evening with North Carolina’s own Senator Sam Ervin, portrayed by professional actor and Ensemble Stage co-founder, Gary Lee Smith.
In November of 2016, The Town of Banner Elk made an offer to Ensemble Stage that would enable continued growth and sustainability. The proposed relocation would also allow Ensemble Stage to achieve the goal of year round, affordable theater in the High Country.
February 2017, marked the relocation of Ensemble Stage to Banner Elk, NC. The conversion of a new home in the Cultural Art Center at the Historic Banner Elk School, located at 185 Azalea Circle SE began with great enthusiasm and support from the Banner Elk Community, the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce, and the Banner Elk TDA.
June 16th, 2017 marked the Grand Opening of Ensemble Stage in a fabulous new venue.
Blake Pace, President
Gary Smith, Vice- President
Lisa Lamont, Treasurer
Susie Robertson, Acting Secretary
Ann Swinkola, Member
Dwight Schnirman, Member
Suzanne Miller, Member
Solidifying Ensemble Stage's commitment to serving as a bridge between educational and professional theater, it has established a professional affiliation with Appalachian State University's Department of Theatre & Dance.
Through the Theater Acting Program, Ensemble Stage works with the ASU Theater Department to ensure that every student has the opportunity to audition, participate in play readings, be a crew member and increase their chance to appear in a professional production before they graduate. Ensemble Stage also has employed several of the ASU faculty members as designers, fight directors, vocal coaches, choreographers and directors.