Corning Opera House is back in action

·3 min read

Jun. 11—CORNING — The Corning Opera House is hosting a grand reopening with comedian and ventriloquist Marc Rubben 5:30 p.m. tonight. The free event is the opera house's first since it closed March 14, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Director De Heaton said she is thrilled to be reopening.

Each room of the opera house will be decorated for the reopening to showcase how each part of the facility can be used when rented by members of the public.

"When you go into the conference room it is decorated how you can rent it for a baby shower or graduation and the guide will answer your questions on how much the room rents for, how many people it seats and what's included," Heaton said.

Other areas of the opera house open on the tour are its commercial kitchen, where those interested in renting it can learn how it can be utilized. Parts of the auditorium will be decorated to show how it can be used for a wedding or corporate functions.

"Again, it's showing off how you can rent a space and use it," she said.

Doors open at 5:30 for self-guided tours and appetizers — cupcakes, mints, marinaded shrimp, fruit kabobs, and salmon. Rubben's show starts at 7 p.m. followed by a balloon drop with door prizes. Free will donations are encouraged.

Moana Jr.

A glimmer of Disney magic will kick off the summer season with performances of Disney's Moana JR. at Corning Opera House 7 p.m. June 17 and 18.

Moana JR. is a 60-minute musical adaptation of the 2016 Disney animated film, bringing the adventures of Moana and her village of Motunui to life onstage. Moana JR. features all the beloved songs from the film, written by Tony, GRAMMY, Emmy, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa'i and Mark Mancina, including "How Far I'll Go," "Shiny," and "You're Welcome."

The heartwarming coming-of-age story follows the strong-willed Moana as she sets sail across the Pacific to save her village and discover the truth about her heritage. Moana and the legendary demigod Maui embark on an epic journey of self-discovery and camaraderie as both learn to harness the power that lies within.

Heaton said the overall message of Moana JR. is one the Corning Opera House's young actors are taking to heart.

"Moana being a young person can be brave and step out of her comfort zone," she said. "We tie that in to what they are doing because some of them are first-time actors and they are doing what Moana did."

The production also celebrates the rich history of Oceania, which is based on the beliefs and cultures of the people of the Pacific Islands. Because the onstage production is condensed from the film, the "ancestors" in the play will use oral tradition — a practice used by Pacific Islanders to pass down information from its elders to children — to fill in the details that time constraints do not permit the cast to act out.

Participation in theatre is a tool used to teach experiences that its actors might not otherwise have. For the young actors of "Moana JR.," that opportunity is no different.

"When we teach them the languages, we talk about what they mean. We talk about what it would be like to be in Hawaii," Heaton said. "We try to educate the kids ... 'This is what the Oceanic people believe. It doesn't necessarily mean what you or your family believe, but this is the culture that this is made in."

Moana JR., directed by Cheryl Thompson, a vocal teacher from Atlantic, will feature performers from Creston; Halle Burgmaier, Brantley Hoakison, Sam Stalker, Hadley Stalker, Ada Buck and Chloe Stull. Taylor Brown of Storm Lake will perform the main character of Moana. Karissa Richey and Emma DeVore are the student directors from Southwest Valley High School.

Tickets for Moana JR. 7 p.m. June 17 and 18 at Corning Opera House are $8 for students and $15 for adults. For more information, visit

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