The Smyrna Opera House will celebrate a milestone this weekend with its "10th Anniversary Celebration of the Re-Opening" of a local venue that has been home to thousands of performances over the years. The celebration, which features several events over the next couple of days, highlights the importance of the venue and the contributions made and observed through a thriving local arts site.
FIVE TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
1. A grand history
Built and opened in 1870, the Smyrna Opera House has opened its doors as everything from the town hall and police station to the library and movie house. A fire in 1948 ravaged the top floor of the building, leaving it uninhabitable for many years. By 2003, though, following months and years of hard work and fundraising, the Smyrna-Clayton Heritage Association finalized extensive renovations and began planning a grand re-opening. This weekend's events celebrate the grand re-opening that marked the completion of a new third floor, a renovated second floor theater and a whole new wing with a second staircase, elevator, meeting rooms and handicapped accessible bathrooms.
2 Famous faces
Over the years, the venue has seen and hosted its fair share of history-makers, local luminaries and celebrities from all over the world. One of the highlights of the 2003 event was an appearance by Frederick Douglass IV, who performed two shows of "Fredrick and Anna: Alive and in Love." The story depicted the love story of the famed abolitionist, who spoke at SOH in the late 1800s.
Due to a scheduling conflict and a snowstorm that forced the date of the original gala to be moved, the appearance of Douglass's great-great-grandson almost did not happen. So many people reached out to the Douglasses, though, to express their disappointment that they would not be there that the couple felt compelled to reevaluate their schedule. The Douglasses cancelled appearances in California and the demand to see the show also necessitated an extra performance.
3 Popping the lens cap of a local
Thursday night features the photography of homegrown photog Kevin Fleming. A Smyrna native, Fleming was once a National Geographic photojournalist whose work has taken him from the war and famine of Somalia, to the Mediterranean for a re-creation of the voyage of Ulysses and dogsledding across the Canadian artic.
Fleming's latest book, "Wild Delmarva" was published in 2010 and features scenes of his beloved home, the Delmarva Peninsula. The exhibit and reception begins tomorrow night at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public. All the artwork will be available for sale as well.
IF YOU GO...
WHAT Kevin Fleming Art Show & Reception
Page 2 of 3 - WHERE Smyrna Opera House, 7 W. South St.
WHEN 6 to 8 p.m.
COST Free and open to the public
4 The intersection of Broadway and Main Street
Saturday's events feature a commemoration ceremony as well as a concert performance by Broadway legend Linda Eder.
Eder's multi-faceted career includes Broadway, pop, standards, country and jazz. Most recently, she crowned her two-decade career with a new album, "Now," which reunited her with pop composer Frank Wildhorn, whose "Jekyll & Hyde" music helped further Eder's career.
SOH board member Sherri Hudson said that people are going to be blown away by the power and range of Eder's voice.
"I really think people are going to enjoy her show," said Hudson. "She's well-known for her standards and her Christmas album but this show will highlight even more of her range.
Silver ticket packages are $55 and include admission to the 5:30 p.m. champagne reception, 6:30 p.m. commemoration ceremony and the concert. Gold ticket packages ($100) include a post-performance meet-and-greet with Eder but those tickets have sold out.
Hudson added that people use the tickets to attend as much or as little of the three events as they like. She also added that people interested in the meet-and-greet should not give up hope.
"Those tickets are sold out but there's always a chance for a cancelation," said Hudson. "People just need to check first before they buy their tickets."
SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE OF EVENTS IN A NUTSHELL
5:30 p.m. Champagne reception
6:30 p.m. Commemoration ceremony
7:30 p.m. Linda Eder concert
5 Looking ahead
The 10th anniversary celebration has one more event on the horizon that television junkies will delight in. Erica Messer, the executive producer and writer for the CBS drama "Criminal Minds," will be in town Saturday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m., for a discussion of the show and her part in it. Messer is the daughter of local residents Ken and Kathy Messer and grew up not too far over the line in Maryland.
She's been with the show since the beginning and people can expect to get some inside scoops on the behind-the-scenes action as well as secrets of the season eight finale (which will have already aired) and the whole creative process of putting together the show. Eder will also be bringing door prizes that include "Criminal Minds" memorabilia.
General admission tickets for this show will be $25 and can be purchased by visiting www.smyrnaoperahouse.org.
Page 3 of 3 - SAVE THE DATE
WHAT Criminal Minds: The Inside Story
WHERE Smyrna Opera House, 7 W. South St.
WHEN 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 25