The Kent Stage: a staple in town history and entertainment

By Amelia Lackey

Eye-catching marquee. Castle-like roofing. Up-close and personal performances. Located just outside of Kent State campus on Main Street is The Kent Stage. This historical site has had several memorable shows throughout its history. However, it is the venue’s own unique history that truly makes The Kent Stage a popular location in the area.

According to its website, The Kent Stage was constructed in 1927. Proving its versatility, it was originally built to be a silent movie and vaudevillian theater but now hosts different events ranging from concerts to weddings to ghost hunts. The huge range of options makes The Kent Stage a popular attraction, particularly when students are on campus for classes.

The classic design of the marquee outside of The Kent Stage reflects the history related to the stage. All shows and times are updated on the marquee as the dates approach. (photo by Amelia Lackey)

The classic design of the marquee outside of The Kent Stage reflects the history related to the stage. All
shows and times are updated on the marquee as the dates approach. (photo by Amelia Lackey)

The Kent Stage is most noted for its stage as newer arenas focus more on standing room. Those who purchase tickets at these arenas are typically far away from the stage as design calls for a large standing area, but The Kent Stage has a capacity of 642 with variety of seating options that keep guests close to the action.

Draven Vannatter, an employee at The Kent Stage for over two years, insists the physical stage is the greatest part of the experience. “The stage aspect is unique because at other venues the performer is level with the crowd. Here, he gets that authenticity that comes with being on a real stage,” Vannatter said.

Hosting approximately 150 concerts a year, The Kent Stage is a large attraction for students and tourists in the area. With a fully-stocked bar known as “All Folked Up,” guests can purchase beverages and take them into the theater during the show. Because it is such a small venue, many artists choose to mingle with the smaller audience, giving the smaller performance space an even more personal appeal.

All Folked Up is a fully stocked bar located outside of the stage. Members of the audience may order adult beverages, take them into the stage area and enjoy them as they watch a show. (photo by Amelia Lackey)

All Folked Up is a fully stocked bar located outside of the stage. Members of the audience may order adult beverages, take them into the stage area and enjoy them as they watch a show. (photo by Amelia Lackey)

“A lot of performers do it, and the crowd loves to talk to the person they paid money to come in and see.” Vannatter said. “Sometimes you get lucky and can meet them at the larger venues, but our audience knows this is something they can look forward to when they come here. But not every artist does this.”

With the on-going list of possibilities and the regularly updated calendar on The Kent Stage’s website, anyone in the area can plan to attend a memorable show and have a unique experience. Ticket prices range from $6 for artists such as Ancestral Warship to $125 for artists such as The Bacon Brothers, though The Kent Stage also hosts shows free of cost.

“It’s a great place to come if you want a down to earth, personal experience,” Vannatter said. “You aren’t 300 ft. away from the stage in grass, you’re right there.”

 

Back to: A night at the theater in Kent

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