Bastrop News

Bastrop Opera House, a lasting impact

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The Bastrop Opera House is a unique asset in Bastrop’s artistic and historic tourism portfolio. Built in 1889, the Opera House has witnessed all the changes, economic and cultural, that have occurred in Bastrop. Military balls, high and low brow live theatre, the moving picture shows, and in the 1950s and 1960s, teenaged dances and hijinks.

However, since being rescued from the sheriff’s unpaid property taxes sale in 1979 by the nonprofit group, Bastrop Opera House, Inc., the theater has returned to its original purpose: presenting live entertainment and providing a community event venue. Under the direction of Chester Eitze since 1984, the theater regularly schedules theatre and musical productions, and when not in use for rehearsal or performance, hosts a variety of other organizations.

“We have an open door policy,” says Eitze. “The Bastrop Chamber of Commerce membership frequently lunches here, the Hyatt at Lost Pines holds corporate meetings here and the Bastrop Community Chorus and Orchestra find it a favorite performance venue.”

“The Opera House is very closely associated with other area tourism and business development organizations and events: the Main Street Program, the Downtown Business Association, Yesterfest, BISD, City Hall, and the annual MLK observance until it became too large for our space. We are an integral part of the community. We also sponsor a youth program, providing opportunities for young people to develop skills in live theatre performance.”

One of Eitze’s proudest achievements occurred in 1987. “We are a theatre production company from the smallest city competing in Texas Nonprofit Theatres, Inc. (TNT) (a state-level theatre support association), and we were the only theatre in the state awarded the rights to the play Nunsense. We consistently surprise other, larger communities with our artistic capabilities.”

Over his thirty years at the helm, Eitze has carefully developed an outstanding community theatre, winning many awards at the Texas Nonprofit Theatres conference, both at the state level and at the multi-state regional level. He says, “My favorite performance may be Booth, by Boston playwright Sorcha Blaine. The Opera House presented this play in 2011, starring local actors Jennifer Houlihan and Paul Standefer. It was an award winner at the TNT competition and went on to complete in the American Association of Community Theatre’s regional festival.”

Seeing your neighbors on stage is one of the Opera House production treats. Bastrop-area stars include David-Anthony Burger and fellow singer-actor Lisa Holcomb, who just finished a run of I Do! I Do!- A Musical about Marriage. If you missed the performance, you missed a delightful evening of very good music, singing and wit.

Our own Terry Lyne Moore brought down the house three different years in Ted Swindley’s musical Always…Patsy Cline, with co-star Engela Edwards. The Opera House live performance scene is frequently represented by other local talent such as Kathy Danielson, Mary Broussard, Hank Nations, Lisa Picciandra, Danne Absher, and Paul Christian. Upcoming 2015 productions will involve many area youngsters, as in the past with Easytheatre Productions.

The next production will be Love, Loss and What I Wore by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron, based on the book by Ilene Beckerman. Scheduled for May, 2015, select performances will be designated as a benefit for Bastrop’s Family Crisis Center.

For more information about the Opera House and its production schedule, check their website: www.bastropoperahouse.com.

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