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the Long Center, from Inside the Ring

Category Archives: Our Place


The Long Center is taking part in Amplify Austina community-wide 24-hour giving festival. The goal was to raise $1,000,000 in 24 hours, and as of press time, the total stood at over $1.7 million, with more than 4 hours left to go. The money raised will  benefit over 300 Central Texas nonprofits.

We live in an incredible city. Very few places can boast of all that Austin offers its residents each day through culture, arts, entertainment, festivals, and that special brand of weird that can’t be found anywhere else. And yet, it wouldn’t be the place we love without the strong sense of community fostered in our city by the hundreds of non-profit organizations that call Austin home.

During this giving campaign, donations will be accepted through Amplify Austin’s secure website, Donors are allowed to choose whichever organization they wish to support, and may submit donations from $25 and up.


Who knew that the Long Center is a non-profit organization?

The Long Center is one of a handful of non-profit live entertainment venues in Austin. Contrary to popular belief, the Long Center is funded by private citizens and corporations in Austin and receives limited city funding.  Community donations are the life-blood of our organization, illustrated by the $1 million in small donations the Long Center receives each year.

Thanks to the support received from the community, the Long Center has the opportunity to give back in many exciting ways. The Long Center not only sponsors community initiatives and educational programs to support local artists, local children, and charitable organizations, but also serves as a home for Austin community members to nurture and inspire creativity.

Donations received from Amplify Austin will allow the Long Center to go even further in sustaining and supporting our Austin community. A donation of only $25 makes it possible for another child to experience the wonder and magic of live performing arts in a state-of-the-art facility.

It is truly the community’s generosity and commitment to the arts that fuels the Long Center’s continued success. Check out the Amplify Austin website, and help us keep Central Texas the best place to live as we raise $1 million to support our community!

Donate to the Long Center through Amplify Austin.

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Words of Wisdom from Charlie Ross, Creator of One-Man Star Wars Trilogy

Charles Ross, star of One-Man Star Wars Trilogy, is performing his one-man act of the entire original Star Wars Trilogy this weekend at the Long Center! We asked Charlie just how he came up with the idea for his original show, and this is what he told us:


This is me, at the age of eight years old. Not much of an achiever, as you can see by my total lack of merit badges.

Okay, I lie. I did receive one badge for house keeping- there’s a vacuum on it. It’s about as prestigious as the “Breathes Oxygen”, “Carbon Based Life Form”, and “Takes Up 3 Dimensional Space” badge.

Now, if you look very closely at my face you’ll notice the glazed look of a boy who knows too much about Star Wars.  My head is somewhere off in space.

At this time, I lived on a farm, in a far, far away, remote-ish, part of Canada.The TV and radio reception at our farmhouse was even worse than my badge count. Our entertainment came from Winter sports, books, a record player and a VCR. The videos we had were the original Star Wars, the Blue Lagoon, and the eight part miniseries of James Clavell’s novel Shogun (except we were missing the last 20 minutes of the last episode).

Now- it doesn’t take Eagle Scout to figure out- that nine times out of ten, when I chose something to watch, it was Star Wars– sorry Brooke. After three years of watching the film an incredible amount of times, we moved away from the farm, to an artsy little mountain town called Nelson. It was there that I discovered Acting. Behavior that used to get me kicked out of class suddenly had some value- I wasn’t being a disruptive jerk- I was a budding Thespian.

Flash-forward fifteen years later, I was a University grad with a BFA in Acting. I was living the bohemian, poverty-line life of an actor, and I longed to gain some autonomy with my “career”. The question was how? The answer was a one-man show.


It’s all very involved, but in not so many words I put together my One Man Star Wars with my best friend and colleague, TJ Dawe. TJ had already written, performed and toured a couple autobiographical solo shows- he was the only person I trusted to work with. Plus, he knew Star Wars.

Once my show felt ready, I toured it on the North American Fringe Festival circuit. At the end of my tour, I was invited to perform in Chicago, at the Noble Fool Comedy Theatre.

Suddenly, stuff started to get pretty serious. The media liked my show’s concept: one hour, one man, three films, no props, no costumes, and no set. Then “POOF!” Lucasfilm contacts me: what’s going on? I respond: please don’t kill me?

They didn’t. Instead, they invite me to come perform at Star Wars convention. The little Boy Scout who couldn’t earn a merit badge for anything, suddenly found himself as an adult, performing for 4000 hardcore Star Wars fans per show.Once my show felt ready, I toured it on the North American Fringe Festival circuit.

At the end of my tour, I was invited to perform in Chicago, at the Noble Fool Comedy Theatre. Suddenly, stuff started to get pretty serious. The media liked my show’s concept: one hour, one man, three films, no props, no costumes, and no set. Then “POOF!” Lucasfilm contacts me: what’s going on? I respond: please don’t kill me?

To hell with your badges! I keep this picture to remind myself that while it may be worth a thousand words, none of them would describe who I am on the inside. I turned one person’s idea of a “waste of time” into “career research”.

I was a definitely terrible scout, but I’m a kick ass dreamer.

Charles Ross, Creator and Performer of One-Man Star Wars Trilogy now at the Long Center. 

For Tickets and more information about One-Man Star Wars Trilogy at the Long Center. 

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Editor’s Note: Guest blogger Beth Burns is the Master of Company and Theatrical Deviser for The Hidden Room Theater in Austin, Texas.

We all sat there, mouths agape, heads tilted.  I suspect I looked like I’d just tasted something I couldn’t describe.  Suddenly, actor Robert Matney started to laugh.  Then we all did, and with great appreciation.  We’d just learned our first magic trick.InvisibleInc18Web

Invisible, Inc. is a crackling play by Paul Menzer about feuding magicians in depression-era New York.  It’s absolutely filled with twists, turns, and lots of magic.  I fell instantly in love with the script, but was also a bit baffled by how we could make these illusions come to life.   Our magic consultant JD Stewart ( quickly got on the task, and began training our performers on how to make magic real.   Now almost a year later, our actors look like pros, and as I watch them, I still feel a sense of amazement. InvisibleInc15Web

How do we do it?  We’ll never tell.  We took a magician’s oath of secrecy with JD when we got started, and we simply can’t divulge.  But we urge you to join us January 11-20, and see if you find yourself in the same puzzled position the Invisible, Inc. team found ourselves in a year ago, as you enjoy this snappy, sexy noire mystery.  Come see us before we disappear into thin air.

PrintStarring Robert Matney, Liz Fisher, Joseph Garlock, Todd Kassens, Julia Lorenz-Olson, Laurence Pears.  Featuring an original score played almost-live nightly by Graham Reynolds.  Directed by Beth Burns, set by Ia Enstera, costumes by Jamie Urban, lights by Megan Reilly, and props by Justin Cox.  Livestream show closing night at

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Guest Blogger Chuck Smith is an Austin native and Executive Director of Equality Texas.

So, we currently call it the Long Center; however, “Austin’s Creative Home” has been operating, in one form or another, for my entire life.Riverside_Palmer_web

I remember the smell of peanuts and elephants that filled the ‘Austin Municipal Coliseum’ when the circus came to town when I was a small child.

I remember seeing Richard Nixon on stage at the ‘Austin Municipal Auditorium’ in 1968 as he campaigned for the United States presidency. I was twelve years old at the time. Apparently, Nixon played the piano for those in attendance. I don’t remember the piano playing. I do remember that Nixon shared the stage with Paul Eggers, a Republican candidate for Texas governor. In those days, Republicans didn’t win statewide elections in Texas. But, what I most remember is that Eggers had cheerleaders! E-G-G ! E-R-S! Eggers! (At age 12, I hadn’t yet realized I was gay. In hindsight, it was all so clear!)Nixon

I remember addressing my classmates in May, 1974 from the stage of the Austin Municipal Auditorium as the city’s largest senior class was graduated from David Crockett High School. I also remember having the distinct honor of receiving my diploma from my father, who served as a trustee on the Austin ISD school board.

I remember May 1, 1975, when I served as a freshman member of Alpha Phi Omega and an usher for UT student events. The raucous crowd at a Beach Boys concert had the ‘Auditorium’ balcony heaving up and down so much that the plaster on the walls began to crack and fall to the ground. I snagged a chunk of the falling debris and kept it throughout my college years.beachboys

Since those days, I’ve enjoyed all kinds of amazing events at the Long Center. Things like Trailer Food Tuesdays, Tap Dogs, Ballet Austin’s Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project and many others. My most recent experience at the Long Center was over the 2012 holiday season. Two generations of my family filled a fabulous mezzanine box as we watched the Cirque Dreams Holidaze show…just like generations before had done and many more will continue to do, making memories at Austin’s creative home.

–Chuck Smith

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Cliff Ernst is the Chair of the Long Center’s Board of Trustees. In celebration of the Holiday Season, Cliff and his family donated and decorated a beautiful purple themed holiday tree, which is now on display in our Kodosky Lounge. We recently chatted with Cliff about this gift to the Long Center and to Austin:


Cliff, can you talk about the significance of the tree…what motivated you to make this gift?

I knew the Long Center budget was tight and I wanted our patrons to experience a little holiday cheer so I decided to offer a tree and draft my family and some friends to help with the project.

Did your whole family take part in the selection/decoration?

Yes.  My concept started as a simple little tree with inexpensive lights and maybe paper ornaments.  Then I spotted that nice tall tree on sale.  My wife Martha suggested the purple lights to be true to the Long Center “purple” brand and I found purple LED lights at Home Depot.  From then on it was a slippery slope.  I spotted “designer” Martha Stewart ornaments at Home Depot.  Then Martha thought we need more “bling” so we made a trip to Hobby Lobby for more glitz and glitter.  We drafted our friends, the Garza family, to erect the tree.  The biggest surprise came when we plugged in the lights.  Who knew that 800 purple LED lights would make such a powerful purple glow!

The Long Center is Austin’s Creative Home ™, and around the holidays, it becomes even more like a home to so many Austinites…why do you think the Long Center figures so prominently into the holidays for so many Austin families?

Each year since the Long Center first opened its doors almost five years ago, more and more Central Texans have had an opportunity to come to the Long Center to experience the joy that the performing arts bring to our lives.  Our executive director, Jamie Grant, likes to remind us that one of the most powerful aspects of the performing arts is the life long memories they create.  Our mission is to be the place in Austin where all types of performing artists can share their creativity and talent with the community.  What better way to create wonderful holiday memories than to experience a great show together at the Long Center?

What do you hope people get out of this gift….what will they take away from seeing this beautiful tree?

I hope our tree reminds people of how fortunate we are to live in Austin, where even a “weird” purple holiday tree can be at home in Austin’s Creative Home.

Have you started thinking about any New Year’s resolutions…?

Eat less and see more shows at the Long Center.  Happy holidays!

Thank you, Cliff.

Again, the Ernst/Garza family Holiday Tree is on display at the Long Center in our Kodosky Lounge. We invite you to stop in and see it for yourself..feel free to take photos, and we encourage you to post them on your (and our!) Facebook and other social media pages.

Thank you, and Happy Holidays Austin!

 The most commonly asked question I get in the box office is somewhere along the lines of: “in your opinion where are the best seats?” Although the Michael and Susan Dell hall is a state-of-the-art concert hall, seating 2400 people, picking a seat can be somewhat intimidating if you’ve never visited us before. To avoid the generalized, “every seat is great” answer, I’ve approached each of my box office coworkers and asked them the question and hopefully – after reading this you’ll be a lot more confident in finding seats for our upcoming season.
Eric Cardona, Box Office Manager, is partial to the Mezzanine Box East seats because “it feels like you’re right in the action, observing the artists at work whether it’s a musical, play or concert.” Especially, for the new and upcoming speaker series, National Geographic Live!, the box seats would definitely put you into the forefront of this exciting new storyteller series.
Susan Griffin, Box Office Manager, is looking forward to the return of The Five Browns, the quintet of talented Steinway piano players performing as the ultimate family act on October 11th. Preparing to bring her family to this show, she favors Orchestra Left, row E seats 101-103 because with the kids there is “plenty of leg room and discreet enough to make a swift exit.”
Daniel Cooper, Lead Box Office Representative, prefers the Mezzanine Center in row A (specifically seat 128) because of the “excellent sightline” and particularly for the unique Igudesman & Joo: A Little Nightmare Music performance set for January 19th, this seat is definitely going to put you at the center of a zany performance of classical music.
Loly Rosas, Box Office Representative and Receptionist, suggests the Parterre Center, row AA seats 126-127 as she is petite this row “allows enough space and height between the row in front of you, nobody tall can obstruct the view.” She plans on seeing Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, October 23rd to celebrate with the superb dance company the richness of Mexico’s history and culture in music, movement and color.
Brandon Strange, Box Office Representative, likes the Orchestra center, row S on either side of the aisle. At a mere, 6’6” there is “plenty of leg room and nobody sitting behind to block their view.” Expect to see him at the performance of Henson Alternative’s Stuffed and Unstrung featuring The Miskreant Puppets, where eighty Henson puppets and six comedians take the stage improvising songs and sketches based on audience suggestions. Recommended for mature audiences.
I, Becky Liendo, Group Sales Coordinator, would like to offer my suggestion as well. I enjoy sitting in the Balcony center, row A seat 116 (aisle seat) because you can definitely get a sense for the overall experience of all the shows. What better way to turn a Long Center event into an experience than with our inaugural Rock-a-LONG Wednesdays series with the internationally acclaimed Jeans ‘N’ Classics band recreating the legendary music of rock and roll legends: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Queen, as the Austin Symphony Orchestra adds a classical dimension?
What’s great about the Long Center are the many theater settings available outside of the Michael and Susan Dell Hall. There’s the small and intimate Rollins Theater, accommodating 200 people for a variety of shows ranging between Austin Shakespeare and the Austin Film Festival. The City Terrace is another location on site that can host up to 2200 people and this season, not only can you see the best view of downtown Austin but while you’re at it, pet a few dinosaurs at Erth’s Dinosaur Petting Zoo™ thanks to the wonders of some incredible puppetry children will have the opportunity to feed, water and care for these marvelous creatures in an unforgettable, interactive experience. The West Lawn next year will be covered by a circus tent as the Zoppe Italian Family Circus bring their 160-year-old tradition of acrobatics, equestrian showmanship, canine capers, and clowns! As a final point, I’d like to mention the free building tours available every Wednesday at noon, should you feel you’d like more information or to get a better feel of the Long Center. If you have immediate questions regarding accessible seating or other general questions please don’t hesitate to call the 3M Box Office Monday-Friday 10am to 6pm at 512-457-5664, option 1 and Saturday 10am to 4pm.

-Becky Liendo
Group Sales Coordinator
Long Center Box Office

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