“The house was a rocking and there was no need for knocking.”
All were welcome to come on in to the Pocahontas County Opera House performance series preview party last Friday evening.
As guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and bid on items in the silent auction, they were introduced to the list of musicians and shows scheduled for the 2022-2023 performance series.
Opera House director Brynn Kusic enthusiastically presented the schedule, highlighting a few shows that should be categorized as “must sees.”
“We have an amazing season coming up,” she said. “The main reason we are here tonight is to launch our 2022-2023 performance series, which if you picked up a rack card, you’ll see – it’s jam packed. We’ve got all kinds of offerings. We have a lot of theater, a lot of regional music.”
The season kicks off with The Rustic Mechanicals presenting Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” on the Discovery Junction stage Sunday, July 17. From there, the performances move indoors to the Opera House Stage.
“We are thrilled to be the premier location of the one-woman play about Pearl S. Buck,” Kusic said. “Kathy Sawyer, who was the director of Greenbrier Valley Theatre from its inception, will be here, portraying Pearl, so that’s pretty amazing.
“We will be bringing Greenbrier Valley Theatre back, but not their normal time. It won’t be in August. It will be after Thanksgiving with a “Mountain Home Christmas.” And we’ll have our murder mystery dinner theater before that, if all goes well – which I think it will. You might see some folks on the stage during that murder mystery dinner theater that are here in this room this evening.
“If you have not participated in community theater in the past, it is the best way to connect with friends and neighbors and folks that you see in local establishments in a whole other realm,” she added. “I accidentally ended up being part of it the year before we had Kathy Mattea. It was a really fun experience, and I have a funny feeling I’m going to be part of it again in October.”
As for the musicians, there are several familiar local favorites as well as some newcomers that will bring new flavors to the stage.
“If everything goes well, we’re going to be able to bring an entire group, Qwanqwa, over from Ethiopia in November, which would be amazing if that happens,” Kusic said. “And during the River Race, we’re going to have our first ever Klezmer show, and it’s actually the hottest Klezmer band in Brooklyn – Michael Winograd and The Honorable Mentshn.”
With Ethiopian and traditional Jewish music, the Opera House will introduce a bit of the world to Pocahontas County. It will also welcome back a familiar face in a new fashion.
“Something that folks should really pay attention to is on October 8, there’s a band called Oyo, and it features one of our very own, wonderful Pocahontas County residents of old times, Drew Tanner,” Kusic said.
Tanner was director at the Opera House and a reporter at both The Pocahontas Times and Allegheny Mountain Radio before moving to Willimastown.
Before presenting a video featuring clips from musical acts in the performance series, Kusic honored the memory of Opera House Foundation member Jud Worth, who was a driving force in making the Opera House a success.
“There’s a very important person who is not with us this evening, and I need to mention his name,” she said. “Jud Worth, who was a part of the restoration of this place and was an original member of the Opera House Foundation. He is not with us tonight. I hope when you came in, you got to see his photograph because, although he is not with us in physically, he is definitely with us in spirit, and I want you to let Jud Worth live on in this building for as long as we get to have things happen here.”
The photograph of Worth was surrounded by flowers, and accompanied by a note that read, “Beloved friend of the Opera House from the beginning. Your love and dedication will always live on, in our hearts and in this place.”
See the schedule online at pocahontasoperahouse.org