For the last couple of months, Pocahontas County residents have been treated to a series of outdoor concerts. First Fridays, Allegheny Echoes, and Pioneer Days have all hosted performances on Marlinton’s Discovery Junction stage. Audiences have turned out with enthusiasm to reconnect with friends while they enjoy the fresh air and fine traditional music. Now it’s the Opera House’s turn to take to the stage.
The Pocahontas Opera House will be opening its 2021-2022 season this weekend with two very different shows. On July 24 Suitcase Junket, a one-man Indie Rock band, will perform. The next night, Sunday July 25, Marlinton will host its first “Shakespeare in the Park” as the Vintage Theater brings Twelfth Night to town. A week later, on July 31, the award-winning blues saxophone of Vanessa Collier will fill the night air.
“We’re so grateful to the town for building this beautiful stage and sharing it with us,” said Brynn Kusic, Opera House Operations Manager. “And the timing couldn’t have better – right when we’re all starting to emerge from the pandemic.”
Kusic was part of the planning team that transformed the vacant lot next to the Opera House into a mini-park, play-space and performance venue and she’s proud of it – both the finished product and the inclusive process that went into it.
“I’ve been involved in the planning of the space as a representative of the Opera House for the past five years. The committee also included members from the town council, Parks and Recreation, the Forest Service, and WVU Extension. Each group had their own vision of what the space would look like, how it would serve the community and promote our economic development. There were lots of meetings and emails back-and-forth but everyone worked together and just look at the result.”
Kusic originally thought of the venue as a compliment to the Opera House and the site of an occasional outdoor show. But COVID 19 made the new venue the ideal spot to launch the 2021- 2022 season. While they’re delighted to have the use of Discovery Junction, the Opera House also recognizes that outdoor performances can present new challenges and they’ve taken that into consideration when planning the season.
“We thought about what performances would translate to an outdoor stage and so we’ve scheduled performers with a bigger sound and, of course, Shakespeare in the park is something we’ve dreamed about for a long time.”
“One thing I really appreciate about the Opera House is that it’s truly a listening room,” she explained. “Discovery Junction has much more of a festival atmosphere so I’m interested to see how a stand-alone concert outside of a town festival or First Friday will turn out.”
The Opera House is suggesting folks come early, bring a picnic if they like, chat with their friends and then settle in to hear a great performance.
“It doesn’t get much better than this,” Kusic said. “Music, theater, friends and family, summer nights and the great mountain air.”