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New this season: Off-Center

Off-Center performance images

The reopening of Thompson Hall, following an extensive two-year renovation, brings great opportunities. Not only does it create a wonderful new home for University Theatre, our volunteer student theatre, it also provides new performances spaces for the Center Stage Performing Arts Series.


For almost forty years, NCSU Center Stage has offered the campus and community an eclectic series featuring some of the most exciting artists you will find in the genres of jazz, world music, dance, and theatre. Most of those performances have been in our beloved 800-seat Stewart Theatre, located in Talley Student Center. Now, with two new theatre spaces available in Thompson Hall, Center Stage is offering something new: the Off-Center Series. You can decide for yourself which “off” word inspired the name – Off Broadway? Offbeat? Offshoot? Off-the-wall? Perhaps a bit of all of them.


We have long wanted to expand the Center Stage series to include artists for which Stewart Theatre might not be the best venue: young artists or ensembles early in their career, some of the many fine artists who call North Carolina home, and some of the hard-to-describe performances that may not attract huge audiences, but that our faithful patrons know can provide an evening of exhilarating entertainment. Our first season will focus on music, but we plan to expand the genres being presented in coming years. Have suggestions? Get in touch.


As part of the Thompson Grand Opening celebration on September 18 and 19, we will open the Off-Center season with two local ensembles that reflect very different forms of music. The folk orchestra Lost in the Trees (September 18) is the brainchild of songwriter and composer Ari Picker, a native of Bynum, right here in the Triangle area. Picker’s lush arrangements include a fascinating collection of instruments from strings to brass and accordion, bells, musical saw, banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass and drum, among others. The next evening will feature the sounds of ELM Collective (September 19), comprised of musicians from five nations and four continents, including NC State physics professor Marco Buongiorno Nardelli. This Raleigh-based “composers’ collective” provides a forum for the fusion of jazz and world timbres and rhythms, with Arabic and Mediterranean overtones.


With a southern warmth and charm from her years growing up in North Carolina and a natural instinct for melody and lyrics, L.A. singer-songwriter (and NC State graduate) Kyler England will perform in the Titmus Theatre on October 2. Kyler crafts songs that are not only addictively catchy but full of depth – gorgeous, organic pop music that speaks to your heart like a close friend.


On January 22, we present the John Brown Quintet, an award-winning jazz ensemble specializing in music from the time-honored Bebop and Hard Bop eras of jazz, bringing new life to some of the best-known classics from the Great American Songbook.


We conclude our inaugural Off-Center season on February 17 with the young Canadian singer Kellylee Evans. With a smooth style that slides through jazz, soul, R&B, blues and world music rhythms, Kellylee’s calming sound speaks volumes: rich, soothing, robust and energizing.


Each with a sound all their own, we are excited to share these artists with you as part of our first Off-Center Series.