Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wright Opera House

There is considerable excitement around here about the Wright Opera House being revived. Ideas for events and uses seem to be tumbling around us, more than we can competently organize at one time... a reflection probably of the heavy-on-creativity nature of our tiny population. Mrs. Wright, the wife of a wealthy fellow during the mining days of Ouray, decided that while they were building a town, there certainly needed to be a facility devoted to culture (especially to provide the proper atmosphere for the young girls) and insisted that her husband build the Opera House. It has a long history of many uses, but apparently has never actually had an opera. I’ll bet Mrs. Wright would have loved the “Nutcracker Sweets” coming up on Dec. showcase our 60+ dance students!

And, we have “live theater returning to the Opera House” in the form of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” With that, reliably comes all of the expected (and loved) buzz associated with a theater production. Posters to be designed, tickets to be printed and distributed to the bookstores where they will be sold, the program to be designed---with great care to include all the spelled-correctly-names of actors and helpers, costumes to be secured, lighting designed and all the pieces found for it, sound effects to be devised...and a rehearsal schedule, of course, to perfect the most effective delivery of the lines!

Also, it will be really good if the new seats ordered for the Opera House arrive before this and other events planned. As the designated worrier for Ouray, I am concerned that they are not here yet. But the young folks in charge of the Opera House, Mel and Kevin, assure me all will be fine. I love young people.

Auditions were held the other night and a surprising range of talent showed up to try for a part. It’s a shame there is only one Tiny Tim because there were so many adorable children trying out.

Many there are already known for local performances (formerly in the MultiPurpose Room in the school...which has a stage), or in regional productions in other towns. But many new faces appeared. We obviously have attracted some superb new talent to our little town.

The cast has been selected and, indeed, only one could be chosen for Tiny Tim. Scrooge is, in real life, the executive vice president of one of the banks. Sounds fitting, but in real life he would not be a good Scrooge. One of the town’s attorneys wrote this adaptation, with his musical wife, and he is directing the production. Both have been active in theater regionally for many years. I am enjoying working with him on the play, and having the opportunity to chat with him without anticipating a bill for the hours or portions thereof for said conversation. (Just joking, Mike, you are worth every penny!)

Among the other cast members are a semi-retired doctor/hospital administrator/concert pianist (yes that is all one person, he may be a lawyer too as I recall), a high school sophomore who stars in school plays, the wife of one of our newest ministers (she, it turns out, has a degree in Theater Arts and would like to start theater classes for kids), and the new night manager of a local motel, just arrived from Texas a few days before the auditions... and he landed the role of Dickens ( the narrator)! When I first met him and he expressed an avid interest in being involved in the play, he clearly was “just arrived from Texas.” I asked him if he could “speak Colorado” and he said he could “speak British” if we wanted Dickens.

The lighting is being done by another new resident, who also has her degree in Theater Arts...our cup runneth over!

The play is done as an old fashioned radio show, with sound effects and music. It will have a live audience, but also will actually be broadcast live on our own radio station, one that is run by our high school students. It will also be recorded for future broadcasts during the holidays. Concerned about the recording process finally led to the “policy” that the production is “not appropriate” for children under 5. I suspect the subject matter and mode of presentation would not be of interest to such young folks anyway.

They had the first read through this week. As I sat and watched, I was reminded of “The Music Man,” envisioning something no doubt akin to Broadway, that clearly it will be a splendid performance of great pride for us all. It is all in the eyes of the beholder. Dec. 7 will be a special evening as our very own live theater is performed in our wonderful Opera House.

Scrooge couldn’t make it to the first reading because he was at a bank equipment trade show in Las Vegas.

And the Texan sounded like he was born here.

by Joyce

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