• August 24, 2019

Blog names WNPC top venue - Odessa American: News

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Posted: Saturday, August 10, 2019 12:15 am

In no particular order, the website Curbed recently chose the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center as one of the 24 most spectacular theaters in the country.

The venues are anywhere from New York City to Oakland, Calif. It includes Radio City Music Hall, The Egg in Albany, N.Y., the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo., and the Fox Theater in Detroit, to name a few.

According to its website, the mission of Curbed is “to advocate for the places where people live, by celebrating, chronicling, and explaining everything you need to know about homes, neighborhoods, and cities.”

General Manager Stephanie Rivas said the WNPAC has hosted “just over 800 ticketed events.”

“This does not include events such as JBS lectures that we have had over the years, large company meetings and other private events that we host throughout the year,” she noted in an email.

The Wagner Noël encloses 108,500 square feet, including the University of Texas Permian Basin’s academic wing for the music program.

“These types of articles and blogs pop up from time to time, so it is always a nice surprise to see our name included on some of these lists. This list … was pretty spectacular. It had the Fox Theater in Detroit and Radio City Music Hall, so to be acknowledged as one of those architectural wonders, if you will, is really nice,” Rivas said.

There wasn’t any particular order, she said, but there was a variety and some were very historic.

“I think one of the impressive things about our facility is, one, where we’re located; and two, just that architecturally it is really interesting and they really focused on the area. When you look at our venue, it really is a reflection of the area that we live in but with a very modern take and I think that that’s the impressive part,” Rivas said.

“… Outside of this area, I think people think of West Texas as this kind of desert, spacious area so when you see this structure, these pictures of our building I think it just becomes impressive to them that somewhere so flat can have something so architecturally beautiful,” she said.  

Bora Architecture designed the building and was assisted by Rhotenberry Wellen Architects locally, Rivas said.

The building opened in November 2011. With 1,800 seats, it is an SMG-managed facility, and a partnership between the communities of Midland, Odessa, and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

“It’s been phenomenal. The patrons in both Midland and Odessa and our surrounding area have really embraced the venue and that’s what makes it successful,” Rivas said.  

Over the years, the performance center has had many acts return such as comedians Gabriel Iglesias and Jerry Seinfeld, the Moscow Ballet and the Oak Ridge Boys.

“They come back because they have a great experience here. They love the venue,” Rivas said. “The thing about this venue is because the acoustics are state of the art, they walk in and are just amazed that this building, this little venue in the middle of West Texas has all of this to offer. So really, they’re amazed and just excited about the opportunity to perform on that stage. A lot of them when they come back around, one of the first things we hear is, ‘I remember this building.’ That always makes us feel good. Our staff does a great job, both front of house and back of house, on show days and that’s always noted by the artists and the tours and it’s just one other point of pride for us.”

Monica Tschauner, director of Discover Odessa, formerly the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said all types of performances come through the WNPAC, which meet the needs of anybody that’s looking for entertainment.

“It gives us an opportunity to just highlight a great local attraction that someone would really enjoy,” Tschauner said. “If it’s one of 24, that’s really something to be proud of. …”

As to whether there will be expansions on the performance or academic side, Rivas said every space has been used.

“… The (UTPB) music department has grown extensively over the last few years and then, of course, with that even the … SMG staff has grown. When we started in this building, I think there were five full-time staff members ... We ran that way for a couple of years. We now run a full staff of, I believe, 13 full-time staff then about maybe seven part-time, so we’re still a small staff but it has grown obviously because of the significance of the number of events,” Rivas said.  

Since Wagner Noël is a performing arts center has less than 2,000 seats, the staff is at the right level, Rivas said. Some have more staff because there is a convention center attached, for example.

“I think there will be some discussion down the road about some expansion to the facility. What that turns out to be is still up in the air, but the performing arts centers itself I think we’re in a good spot there. The expansion will be more music department and staff than anything to the performing side,” Rivas said.

She added that all the activity at the building is a point of pride for the community.

“That’s a testament to everyone who buys a ticket. We can bring acts every day, but if no one buys a ticket then there’s no incentive for those artists to come back and there’s no incentive for us to bring similar artists, so every time we sell a ticket it’s just another reason to continue doing what we do. I think there’s just a natural appreciation for, not just an activity, not just having something to do, but the caliber of the performance, the artists and the performances that we’ve been able to bring that’s been a big goal for us,” Rivas said.

“There has to be a certain level of production value and then again bringing a variety. We want to make sure that there’s a little something for everyone all the time,” she added.

The WNPAC will welcome its first Bollywood show called Taj Express Oct. 17. 

“… It’s taken a little while because to find shows that are of good quality we want to always make sure that we’re bringing something that will be what our patrons expect,” Rivas said.

Taj Express is a national touring show.

“It’s like a big dance musical spectacular show; really pretty costumes; the whole thing. It would be considered a theatrical performance,” Rivas said.

She added that they are working hard to keep prices affordable.

“I always tell everyone the great thing about this building is our average ticket price for just about any show is $60 … Before this, we had to travel to Dallas or El Paso or San Antonio to have that same kind of experience because these are national tours that we see in those bigger cities; the exact same ones,” Rivas said.

Odessa, TX

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