Arts & Theater

Folsom’s Harris Center is a showcase for arts and culture

Whether you want to watch a full-scale theater production, attend a rock concert or be exposed to a variety of cultural performances, the Harris Center at Folsom Lake College has something for everyone.

Originally called the “Three Stages of Folsom Lake College,” the Harris Center is a 80,000-square-foot venue with three stages of various sizes. Though it was proposed to enrich the education of the school’s visual and performing arts students, a partnership with the city of Folsom made it a regional entertainment venue.

The $50 million venue, which opened in February 2011, has generated more than $4 million in ticket sales per year, according to a fact sheet about the center, and visitors often comment about the center’s intimate atmosphere, Paul Dorn, the center’s director of marketing and communications, said.

For students at the college, having this facility on campus allows them to practice what they learn in the classroom. “Getting the opportunity to perform on a professional stage is extremely motivating,” Dorn said. Many theater arts students also study production and gain experience working backstage.

Harris Center hosts artists and performers from all over the world, including dancers from South Africa and Argentina and musicians from Pakistan and Hawaii.

The center also is home to several arts education programs, including the Folsom Lake College Youth Chamber Orchestra, the Youth Arts Academy for visual arts and the ClassACTS! Matinee Series, for children from local schools.

Five things to know

There’s a gallery inside – The Bank of America Gallery near the front of the center regularly displays artwork from local artists. The gallery opens before every performance and every afternoon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. It will host the annual faculty art exhibition, Sept. 15-Nov. 12, and photography from Wayne Olts, professor of anthropology at the college, Nov. 17-Jan. 14.

It’s accessible to everyone – The Harris Center was built after the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act, so it has ramps, accessible bathrooms and spaces for wheelchairs in each theater.

It’s best to dress in layers – Make sure to bring along a sweater or jacket. According to a 2014 the community survey distributed by the center, a common complaint was that the air conditioning is too strong, especially in balcony seating.

Many of the workers are students – The center is largely staffed by students, Dorn said, including in the marketing division, the ticket office and in backstage production. Being a volunteer usher is so popular the center has a waiting list.

There’s a lot inside – In addition to the three stages and the gallery, the venue also has a large recording studio, rehearsal spaces and classrooms for rent to the public.

Harris Center at a glance

  • Address: 10 College Parkway, Folsom, CA 95630
  • Capacities: Proscenium Theater, 851; City Studio Theater, 207; Scott Skillman Recital Hall, 95
  • More information: harriscenter.net; 916-608-6888

THREE CAN’T MISS EVENTS

  • The Martial Artists and Acrobats of Tianjin, Friday, Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 16, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 17, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.: The group, established in 1957 in China, mixes martial arts, magic and acrobatics in its athletic shows.
  • A Night with Janis Joplin, Thursday, Oct. 19, and Friday, Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 21, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.: The show, in two 55-minute acts with a 20-minute intermission, celebrates the rock legend and her biggest musical influences, including Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Odetta, Nina Simone and Bessie Smith.
  • Rodger + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Monday, Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m.: The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical from the creators of “The Sound of Music” and “South Pacific” offers a contemporary take on the classic tale.
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