After more than a year of closed doors and quiet stages, the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts opens its 2021-22 season with a nostalgic opening night party.

The season will kick off steeped in nostalgia when Masters of Soul take the stage on Thursday, Sept. 16, singing and dancing the night away with everyone’s favorite Motown hits from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

Backed by a four-piece band of seasoned musicians, these incredible vocalists channel the masters of soul themselves, emulating the timeless harmonies and smooth moves of iconic artists of the era.

A week later, Dance Theatre of Harlem will share a powerful vision of ballet in the 21st century, Sept. 22-23.

Born at the height of the civil rights movement, this multi-ethnic company celebrates half a century of dance, performing a forward-thinking, impassioned repertoire that celebrates African American culture through the language of ballet.

Earlier this year, the management of the three-venue performing arts complex installed a new air ionization system to provide air purification throughout the facility. The new system eliminates 99.4% of airborne virus particles, making indoor events safer for all.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have patrons back in our theater after the last year of stress, grief, isolation and Zoom calls — and we’re now safer than ever thanks to our new air purification system,” said Rae Geoffrey, managing director of the Wortham Center. “There are so many things to look forward to this season, from world-renowned dance companies to side-splitting comedy, and we can’t wait to have you back with us, hearing you cheer, clap, gasp, laugh and sing along as you enjoy world-class performances live and in-person.”

Upcoming Shows

Pilobolus is back with its world premiere performance to celebrate 50 years of innovation in dance, Oct. 8-10.

The troupe’s new work, “BIG FIVE-OH!,” is an ode to the company’s history, full of reimagined classic works, greatest hits and a few brand-new concepts.

Susan Werner is a songwriter extraordinaire with a repertoire that falls between folk, jazz and pop, Oct. 27.

Werner will share all-new material from her latest country and Americana-inspired album.

The Kingdom Choir continues its sterling example of love, hope and unity, Dec. 13.

The London-based group of world-class vocalists performed“Stand By Me” at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The Choir is known for its breathtaking harmonies, warm energy and infectious enthusiasm on stage.

• A Swannanoa Solstice moves the music into the holiday season with its world-class display of Appalachian, Celtic and world-influenced folk on Dec. 19. Multi-instrumentalist Robin Bullock and Grammy-winner David Holt will be joined by special guests Doug Orr, Phil Jamison, E.J. Jones & The Piper Jones Band, renowned Madison County fiddler Josh Goforth, and Natalya Zoe Weinstein and John Cloyd Miller of Asheville folk fixture Zoe & Cloyd.

2022 Season

A sneak peek at 2022 includes: “The World of Musicals,” Jan. 22; American Spiritual Ensemble, Jan. 25; the Aquila Theatre Company breathes new life into F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” Feb. 4, and Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” Feb. 5; a special Valentine’s Day event features father-and-son piano duo Ryan & Ryan, Feb. 14; PHILADANCO! The Philadelphia Dance Company returns Feb. 17-18; and the month wraps up with The Peking Acrobats, Feb. 24-25.

Tickets for all performances are on sale now, and are available at worthamarts.org, as well as in person at the box office at 18 Biltmore Ave., or by calling 828-257-4530.

A full performance schedule for all three venues that make up The Wortham Performing Arts complex — the 500-seat Diana Wortham Theatre; the 100-seat black box theatre, Tina McGuire Theatre; and the multi-use Henry LaBrun Studio — is available online.

Updated Vaccination, Mask Policy

The Wortham Center requires proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or proof of a negative COVID-19 test conducted by a lab within 48 hours of the performance to ensure the health and wellness of all patrons, artists, staff and volunteers.

Policies will be adjusted in response to local and national recommendations about health and safety. For full policy details and updates, visit the COVID-19 Policies and Procedures page at worthamarts.org.

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