Ohio Valley Opry to mark anniversary with telethon
MCCONNELSVILLE — This time last year, the fixture of entertainment in McConnelsville unveiled its $900,000 investment in the historic center of the town.
It spent the winter months returning audiences to the seats, showing off renovation and preservation work completed, with an eye on large acts and packed seats this spring and summer.
“Then COVID hit, and the lights went dark,” said Adam Shriver, executive director of the nonprofit venue.
But Saturday, the bright lights of the Twin City Opera House will shine on the opry once again.
“Twenty years in the same building is pretty sentimental for us, it would have been super sad to not get to experience our 20th year there on the opera house stage,” said co-founder of the Ohio Valley Opry band, Deana Clark. “This isn’t really what we envisioned for ourselves for the 20th anniversary. We envisioned two packed shows back to back, more than 30 songs a show, but happy to support the opera house and sustain their operations doing this together.”
The Ohio Valley Opry will perform Saturday on the stage of the theater, to a limited audience of pre-sale tickets.
“We have about 40 left,” said Clark before heading to rehearsal Wednesday evening.
Forty of the total 80 select seats, a health restriction to allow for the live performance of the group including; Deana and Marvin Clark, Gary and Bryant Sigler, Beth Bigham, Rick Troyer, Swanagan Ray, with appearances of both Matt Coleman and Marietta’s Mike Morrison also planned throughout the night.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the show beginning at 6 p.m.
But that’s not the only way patrons, fans and those invested in the small-town economic driver can participate in the celebration.
“We’re throwing this just like one of those old school telethons where it was on TV and you were encouraged by the emcee to call in and pledge, but instead of on TV, we’ll be live-streaming to our Facebook, YouTube channel and Ohio History Connection will also be showing the performance,” Clark explained.
The emcees for the show? Radio entertainment and announcing staples for Morgan County, Adam Shriver, and his father Rick Shriver.
“Just like the opry is a throwback to the Grand Ole Opry, this is celebrating like the way things used to be done, but with new technology,” said Shriver. “The telethon concept and the old country music concept coming together is an incredible thing.”
Before coronavirus, the Ohio Valley Opry was a staple of the historic theater, bringing in audiences to pack the house and celebrate old country, gospel and folk tunes.
“The Opry is a throwback to the Grand Ole Opry, this is celebrating like the way things used to be done,” explained Shriver. “For us, the first part of a normal year is usually slow for us anyways. But then the Opry really kicks off that live season at the end of winter. They were supposed to open for us that week things shut down in March.”
Instead, the stage has remained dark, but for a children’s theater production filmed in parts and edited together for a film showing with limited seating and a historic bridge presentation last weekend.
“We’ve been showing some movies, but it’s not normal. It’s old movies, and the irony is we’re showing what people have spent the months inside already watching their own screens, it’s not really working,” said Shriver.
So now to try something new, sell tickets in advance at $20 a piece, and encourage fans, patrons and supporters to call during the live stream to pledge their support to the nonprofit theater.
“Deana has been so gracious that anybody who’s willing to call in and make a donation — that goes directly to benefit the theater,” Shriver explained. “And she solicited sponsorships of local businesses and went above and beyond to make sure that goes to the opera house. This really is an incredible opportunity for the show in some way to still go on.”