SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Washington Pavilion opened in 1999. The former Washington High School was transformed into an entertainment venue in the heart of the city.
The first Performance Series at the Pavilion included the Broadway musical Cats.
“Starting out with Cats was a big deal,” Kim Bartling said.
Bartling is a former longtime board member at the Pavilion and remembers the early days of entertainment at the Pavilion.
“I think at first we were just excited to get anything. Yes, you put a bid in, but also, they have to pick you. They have to decide how many days they’re going to run and how much it costs to bring them in and can you sell that many tickets and so on,” Bartling said.
Today, the Pavilion is getting ready to kick off its 25th Performance Series featuring six Broadway shows.
“Beetlejuice, Aladdin, Disney shows; these were merely pipe dreams 25 years ago that we would ever have a Disney production on this stage and do full-week Broadway productions,” Washington Pavilion President and CEO Darrin Smith said.
Beetlejuice opens this Tuesday night and runs for a full week.
Aladdin will also be in town for a week.
“We’ve never had two full-week Broadway productions ever, and we’re having two now this season, and two within three months of each other,” Smith said.
The Pavilion has also seen growing subscriber numbers over the quarter century.
Smith says in the early years, about 500 people were season ticket holders.
This year, the Pavilion expects to close out the season with close to 4,000 subscribers.
“That’s not necessarily the trend in every theater across the country. We’re really an anomaly here in Sioux Falls and I think it speaks volumes about the community and people here and those interest levels,” Smith said.
The impact of the Performance Series spills well beyond the historic landmark.
Teri Schmidt is the CEO of Experience Sioux Falls.
“It really has heightened the cultural capabilities of people looking for things to do. These are big shows and people come in from all around to go to those. Plus, as community members, this is quality of life, so there’s excitement about it from people who lived here,” Schmidt said.
Of course, Bartling will be in this theater to catch some shows this season, including Beetlejuice and To Kill a Mockingbird.
When she reflects on the success over the years, she’s not surprised at all.
“That’s the power of community. It’s not just Sioux Falls. It’s the power of southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa, people come from all over to see things there,” Bartling said.
Beetlejuice opens Tuesday night.