Flat Rock Playhouse: Community, Creativity, and Curtain Calls

March 27, 2024

As the State Theatre of North Carolina, Flat Rock Playhouse is not just a venue for entertainment; it’s a hub for artistic exploration and personal growth. With over 150 productions annually and a robust educational program serving more than 10,000 students, the theater is deeply ingrained in the fabric of its community.

“I work to ensure we are doing our best to provide our community with the quality services and experiences they deserve while stewarding the trust placed in our organization,” says Sam Yaeger Goodrum, the Managing Director of Flat Rock Playhouse. “I am constantly looking for new opportunities to better serve the needs of our community while ensuring that we are delivering on the needs of today.”

The community lies at the heart of Flat Rock Playhouse’s operations. Goodrum underscored the symbiotic relationship between the theater and its patrons, volunteers, and local partners.

Check out our full Q&A with Goodrum below…

Tell us about your business and the role you play in it. 

Flat Rock Playhouse, the State Theatre of North Carolina, is a professional producing regional theater with a dual mission of producing high-quality performing arts and providing quality arts education for ages Kindergarten through Adult. Flat Rock Playhouse produces 150+ productions annually and serves 10,000+ students through classes, field trips, in-school tours, and onstage productions. As the Managing Director here at Flat Rock Playhouse, it is my role to ensure that we adhere to our mission of enriching lives through the art of theatre by sustaining production excellence, nurturing talent, and inspiring creativity in an inclusive safe haven for artistic vision, life-long learning, and creative risk. We are a proud recipient of the 2023 George A. Parides Professional Theatre Award awarded by the North Carolina Theatre Conference (NCTC).

Tell us about your company culture.

At Flat Rock Playhouse we strive to create an organizational community in which our artists, craftsmen, and students have an opportunity to experience growth. This means allowing the opportunity for individuals to take personal, creative, and artistic risks that ultimately foster personal growth and responsibility

What is your company’s relationship with the community?

As Flat Rock Playhouse endeavors to provide our community with a craft theater experience unlike anywhere the relationship with our community is one of synergy. We rely on our community to ensure that we are providing our guests and patrons with the very best experience. Our incredible volunteers such as our ushers, those who assist with parking cars or providing transportation for our guest artists, as well as our engaged board members, are all integral in ensuring we can provide a wonderful experience to our patrons, students, and guest artists. Local talents, such as our partners at Pat’s School of Dance and the Flat Rock Chorus ensure that we are engaging our community in continually offering opportunities for local artists and talents to shine and thrive.

What does “hospitality” mean to you?

Hospitality means making our guests and patrons welcome in our “home.” We strive to provide a welcoming and inviting experience for our patrons from their first interaction with purchasing tickets, followed by their first steps on our property until finally the curtain comes down. This starts when our people prepare for their visit to Flat Rock Playhouse, as we strive to provide tips and information on the best sights and eats in our area. Upon arrival, our parkers help to guide patrons into our parking lots while our wonderful patron services team members assist folks with their seats, tickets, and concessions. At Flat Rock Playhouse we want our patrons to feel like they are at home here on the “rock.”

What experiences do you strive to create for your customers?

At Flat Rock Playhouse we strive to provide one-of-a-kind experiences for our patrons and students. As a producing theater, Flat Rock Playhouse crafts each production from the ground up. This means that our patrons will never see a performance like it anywhere else. We bring talent from all over the country to work side by side with our local artists to create our memorable productions and we endeavor to ensure our patrons walk away from each performance in awe and wanting to return. For our students, we hope to provide quality educational experiences both in our classrooms and out in the schools that utilize the arts to reinforce the development of positive social and leadership qualities.

What do you enjoy most about working in your industry?

Working in arts entertainment and arts education I have the opportunity to watch our patrons, artists, and students experience personal change with each production, project, or class. Sometimes this change is small, perhaps just a slight shift in someone’s view of the world or their past experiences, after watching a performance. Sometimes it is major such as students gaining the confidence to for the first time, stand center stage in front of an audience. Regardless in every case, I get to see the power of the arts and how they can positively affect change and growth in our community.

What is your company vision? How do you reflect it in daily work?

Flat Rock Playhouse’s vision is to provide our community across the region with excellence in arts entertainment and education. In my daily work here at Flat Rock Playhouse I work to ensure we are doing our best to provide our community with the quality services and experiences they deserve while stewarding the trust placed in our organization. This means ensuring that I am constantly looking for new opportunities to better serve the needs of our community while ensuring that we are delivering on the needs of today.

Through your experiences, what have you learned about customer service?

I have learned that customer service is an art form in and of itself. To create the best experience for customers (patrons) you must essentially get to know a little bit about them in a matter of moments. Especially here at the Playhouse, where we want to match our patrons with the best experiences, this can mean finding them the best time to come, where they want to sit, and offering suggestions on local eateries and stops to visit before their show time. Our customer service representatives here at Flat Rock Playhouse strive to ensure that our patrons have a wonderful experience from that first encounter till the curtain comes down.

What makes your business unique in its field?

Flat Rock Playhouse is a year-round producing theater. As a producing theater, FRP focuses on the craft of theatre, creating one-of-a-kind productions that allow our artists to stretch creatively while bringing our patrons along for the ride.

How many employees do you have? And what qualities do you look for when hiring?

We have between 20 to 70+ employees annually based on our season’s needs. We strive to hire locally whenever possible. Flat Rock Playhouse seeks highly motivated and passionate people who desire to make a difference in our community and industry.

Where do you see your business in the next year? The next five?

Within the next year to five years, we hope to see Flat Rock Playhouse’s patron base continue to expand as well as see our educational initiatives continue to take off. With each new season, we endeavor to see our patron base grow as we hope to bring more and more people from not only the surrounding region but from all over the United States to this part of WNC. With our Playhouse Jr. Tours, we are bringing educational theatrical experiences into the schools. Last year we were able to bring productions to elementary schools in 3 counties in WNC seeing over 6000 students. As we look forward to this year and beyond, we hope to expand this program across WNC and eventually the state.

Why did you decide to join the Chamber?

We decided to join the Chamber to better reach and engage our current and potential patrons and partners in the Asheville area. As we work to expand our reach within the region, we believe that our success will be imperative to continuing to engage with our community in the Asheville area.

Learn more about Flat Rock Playhouse at www.flatrockplayhouse.org.