Member Meet & Greet with the Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber – The F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts!
Posted: August 24, 2021
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The F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts – Wilkes-Barre, PA
Celebrating 35 years as the center for arts and entertainment in the Diamond City.
The F.M. Kirby Center originally opened in 1986 as a performing arts theater. The building, located at 71 Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, was built in 1938 and spent most of its history as a movie theater.
Since then, the Kirby Center has evolved into a true community performing arts theater. They bring in big headliners, but also present opera shows and community programming, including free Young People’s Theater Series on the main stage. Most uniquely, they also bring in sensory friendly/relaxed performance in their intimate lobby setting.
To support all facets of the local community, they also offer space for business meetings, local dance studios, and weddings. At the venue, you can find all this, as well as concerts (including their Chandelier Lobby Series), comedy shows, Broadway performances, movie showcases (like the Classic Movie Series sponsored by Flashback Cinema, Curtis Montz Film Series, Arthouse Movie Series, and Signature Series), speakers, community events, Kirby Kidz, and Art and Education Master Classes.
“In the past few years, we have put considerable effort into our overall accessibility,” says Kirby Center Artistic Director, Anne Rodella. “We want to be involved in our local community and make our venue a comfortable destination for all.”
The first year we produced sensory friendly work, at one performance a young gentleman in the audience started a dance party along to the closing number. That show was Freckleface Strawberry: The Musical, a show all about loving yourself and that what makes you unique makes you special. Speaking with our audience always highlights our mission… Families tell me about how much our free programs have meant to them over the years. Teachers reach out to let me know the power our master class had for their students. The past two years of producing sensory friendly work opened my eyes to a community need to feel welcome and safe.
Anne E. Rodella, Artistic Director for the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
The heart of the arts and entertainment.
“Our mission is to be at the heart of the arts and entertainment,” Rodella continued. “We do this by bringing quality entertainment to our community, by maintaining a historic building, by being a downtown community partner, by striving to always include education in our programming, and keeping accessibility in all ways in mind for our audiences.”
The Kirby Center loves working with projects like Chalkfest and Riverfest alongside the Riverfront Parks Committee. They also often partner with the City of Wilkes-Barre, Diamond City Partnership, Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber, and Downtown Business Association on a variety of events like Small Business Saturday. Annually, they donate over 1,000 tickets to local non-profits and healthcare agencies for fundraisers, events, and programs.
And, according to Rodella, they couldn’t do any of this without an amazing staff. “We have 3 fulltime staff members out of 14 who have been here 20 years or more,” she continues. “The rest of the staff all, also, have significant history with the Kirby. If we start speaking about our event staff, the history extends beyond those 20 years, and if we then start speaking about our donors, the years will just continue to build.” Beyond the Kirby’s incredible, community-minded staff, Rodella explains that it’s also great people behind the scenes that make it all work. “Our Board is involved and supportive, our community partners lift us up and our sponsor, grants, and earth angels ensure that we continue to bring entertainment to the Wyoming Valley.”
Welcome back to live entertainment!
During the pandemic, the Kirby Center pivoted by offering their Young People’s Theater series virtually and they started filming behind the scenes videos about the Kirby Center to stay connected to the local community and their audience.
They also spent time making sure that they can welcome audiences back as safely as possible. They installed an air filtration system, and had ionization units installed in all HVAC equipment throughout the venue. They employ frequent cleaning of common touch areas and disinfecting foggers for auditorium, dressing rooms, and all restrooms. They have masks available for patrons and staff, hand sanitation stations, Plexiglas breath shields at all bars and concession areas, and touchless faucets, toilets, and urinals in their restrooms.
After all of these updates, the team at the F.M Kirby Center is ready to welcome guest back to the venue, with a great lineup of programming for the summer and fall months.
Upcoming 2021 Concerts:
September 11 – Joe Nardone Presents: “Oh What A Night” of Doo Wop Legends Volume 2 Featuring Jay & the Americans, Lou Christie, Brian Hyland, Gary US Bonds, and The Fireflies
September 16 – An Evening with Straight No Chaser
September 18 – Edd Raineri Presents A 60’s Spectacular Featuring The Yardbirds, Big Brother & The Holding Company (Janis Joplin’s ORIGINAL band) and Peter Asher & Jeremy Clyde
September 25 – No Quarter – A Tribute to the Music of Led Zeppelin
October 9 – Theo Von
October 15 – Almost Queen: A Tribute to QUEEN with special guest Elton John Tribute – Philadelphia Freedom
October 20 – Art Garfunkel
October 21 – Jo Koy
October 22 – Foreigner
October 29 – Ayron Jones: Live from the Chandelier Lobby
November 5 – The Million Dollar Quartet
November 6 – Joe Nardone Presents A “Rock ‘N’ Roll & Doo Wop Spectacular” Featuring: Chubby Checker, The Brooklyn Bridge, The 1910 Fruitgum Company, and The Happenings
November 13 – Edd Raineri Presents The Sinatra Years
November 21 – Strand of Oaks: Live from the Chandelier Lobby
Upcoming Classic Movies Series:
August 27 – The Princess Bride [PG]
September 3 – Grease [PG]
September 10 – Gone With The Wind [NR]
September 17 – To Kill A Mockingbird [NR]
Come Back to the Kirby!
To purchase tickets for an upcoming show or to connect with The Kirby, visit them online, give them a call at 570-926-1100, or stop by in-person at 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre PA 18701.
You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Spotify.
And, don’t forget to check back here at DiscoverNEPA every month for The Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber’s Member Meet & Greet blog series. We’ll be sharing unique stories and introducing NEPA to the Chamber’s many amazing small business and nonprofit members.