Catch a Show at The Lenfest Center for the Arts – W&L

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For more than 25 years, the Lenfest Center for the Arts at Washington and Lee University has provided unique, quality entertainment to the greater Lexington community — and, of course, to Kendal at Lexington residents.

“It’s enlarged the artistic footprint for Rockbridge County significantly,” says Rob Mish, executive director of the Lenfest Center. “We’re very fortunate as an institution to have a center like this.”

In fact, Kendal resident Anne Wilson has a unique perspective on what it was like before the Lenfest Center was built. At the time, her husband was the president of Washington and Lee, and she says the need for a new center for the arts was keenly felt. “Everyone knew that we needed a new building, particularly for art and music performances,” she says. “At that point, there was a very small theater in town, which Washington and Lee used, and the chapel was used for music events, but it was quite small — there just wasn’t space for all the work that needed to go on.”

Like Rob, Anne has also noticed the impact of the Lenfest Center on the Lexington community. “It made such a difference, not only of course to faculty and students, but to townspeople. Suddenly there was this big building that everybody loved,” she says.

Now, more than 25 years later, shows at the Lenfest Center are a favorite activity of many Kendal residents. The events and performances are dynamic, varied and affordable, ranging from free concerts put on by the music department, to the much-anticipated Lenfest Series. While this season’s series is already complete, the Lexington community will have three to four new events in next season’s series to look forward to. Rob explains that the performers in the Lenfest Series are professional and nationally or internationally known. “Our most recent one was a dance group from Portland, Oregon,” he says. “We’ve also had the Russian Ballet. It ranges from something that might be very intellectual to something that is completely fun.”

And despite the caliber of performers gracing the stage at the Lenfest Center, Rob estimates that even the most expensive ticket isn’t more than $30, thanks to an endowment that helps subsidize prices. For instance, Rob remembers seeing noted composer — and EGOT award-winner — Marvin Hamlisch at a different venue for more than $100 per ticket, but the Lenfest Center was able to bring him in and sell tickets for a fraction of that cost. “We offer quality entertainment at truly affordable prices,” Rob says.

The next big event at the Lenfest Center is a production of Anton Checkov’s The Cherry Orchard, taking place the second week of March. “It’s a relatively new translation and adaptation,” Rob says of the student-produced play. “It’s a comic masterpiece that’s supposed to be really good.”

As with many events at the Lenfest Center, Kendal residents will be able to take a bus to see The Cherry Orchard, and Anne is quick to stress how accessible the shows are, whether residents wish to take the bus or drive themselves the few miles down the road. “It’s convenient,” she says. “It’s just about two miles away and very easy to park in the evening.”

And if any Kendal residents are interested in learning more about the Lenfest Center, Rob says he would be more than happy to provide a tour of the building, including viewing the backstage dressing rooms and riding the orchestra lift. “We love showing off this building,” he says.

To make sure you don’t miss any upcoming shows, visit the Lenfest Center’s current season events page. After all, as Anne puts it, “It’s the best entertainment we have!”

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