By Hannah Ash
Going to the theater has been a well-loved pastime since the days of William Shakespeare, and Northwest Arkansas has absolutely no shortage of places to spend a night at the theater, whether it be seeing a beautiful ballet or enjoying the newest hit movie.
Northwest Arkansas has a thriving live theater scene in a number of impressive venues. The Walton Arts Center offers the largest selection of live entertainment, from concerts, plays, ballets, musicals, and comedy shows, all conveniently located in the heart of Fayetteville’s Dickson Street entertainment district.
Tucked in right behind the Walton Arts Center is the new home for TheatreSquared, Northwest Arkansas’ nationally recognized premiere theatre. TheatreSquared’s new building, a beautiful architectural masterpiece, is set to open later this year, and will surely house an exciting lineup of brilliantly prepared award-winning shows. TheatreSquared is known for giving top-notch performances of world renowned, award winning productions, making it the perfect spot for a classy date night. Call up the babysitter and call an Uber, because their shows only run for a couple weeks each, and you do not want to miss such an awesome cultural experience!
Tucked away in the quaint, historic downtown Rogers square is a great talent-filled local theater, the Arkansas Public Theatre. Housed in the gorgeously renovated 1927 Victory Theatre, the cabaret seating offers a unique experience to patrons enjoying a night out on the town. The Arkansas Public Theatre group has a small lineup—usually less than ten shows a year—which ensures their commitment to putting on high quality shows. Not only are the performances a must-see, but the beautiful 2008 restoration of the Victory funded by the Walton family is so lovely it could stand on its own as the feature!
Another particularly special theater in Northwest Arkansas is the Arts Center of the Ozarks, nestled away in a burgeoning downtown Springdale. The ACO, as its better known, is home to live performances in the form of plays, dance, and music, and also hosts a gallery of changing exhibits from local artists. The ACO also works with schools throughout the area, offering field trips for classes to view one of their great kids’ plays, which is an excellent opportunity to expose kids to a nontraditional extracurricular activity which they perhaps never would have known about otherwise.
For the kiddos who have caught the theatrical bug, there are great opportunities across NWA to get involved in children’s theater. Arts Live Theatre in Fayetteville offers acting classes and camps for kids grade K through 12. With about a dozen shows each year, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to get involved in an Arts Live production.
Another local theater for kids is Bentonville’s Trike Theatre. Like Arts Live, they offer classes and acting camps for youth, but this group also expands their demographic to younger children through their “Little Trikes” series, which is geared towards engaging with children under the age of 5 in the theater. Being involved in live theater has so many benefits, such as developing teamwork skills, personal responsibility, and most importantly, a sense of self-confidence, and Northwest Arkansas is proud to offer such a unique opportunity to its youths.
The Malco movie theaters, located throughout NWA, make a great choice for date nights or a fun filled family outing. Two of them, the Pinnacle Hills Promenade and Fayetteville locations, offer an even more enticing show with IMAX options. Both theatres also feature a full bar and plenty of delicious choices in movie concessions, all of which can be enjoyed while kicking back in the theater’s newly renovated reclining chairs.
For an even more culturally immersing night out at the movies, Skylight Cinema in Bentonville offers a very unique experience to its patrons. Skylight is the only theatre in the area to offer a full-service restaurant, The Cutting Room, as well as a full bar. Skylight Cinema also offers unique cultural experiences to customers; not only do they show first-run productions, but the theater also runs special screenings for sports games, independent films, and other cultural cinematic experiences.
Being a part of the beautiful Natural State, it is unsurprising that there is even a place to go watch movies outdoors. At the 112 Drive In, located off of Highway 112 in Fayetteville, patrons can take a trip back in time and enjoy a double feature movie from the comfort of their cars. The drive-in feels like a scene out of Grease, offering a glimpse back in time for the youngsters, and bringing up a nostalgic fondness for the older generation.