Opera house reopens doors to public after closing for COVID-19

Lydia Kautz, Junction City Daily Union, Kan.
·3 min read

May 3—After being forced closed by COVID-19, the C.L. Hoover Opera House is opening back up — something it celebrated Monday with a "re-open house."

Co-Directors Joe and Sheila Markley said attendance at the event had been good and the mood had been positive as the community slowly moves back toward normal.

"People were just glad to be back and into the opera house," Joe said.

The opera house will now have its regular business hours back for the office and will start hosting events again this month.

According to Joe Markely, the opera house will hold events such as graduation parties this month and the Junction City Little Theater will hold some children's shows in June and July. Joe Markley said the opera house's opening show for the season will take place July 30 with the Quebe Sisters — a Texas swing trio with a similar sound to the Andrews Sisters and that incorporates the fiddle in their act.

"It'll be a fun show," Joe Markley said. "But we're just kind of getting back into the swing of things."

Masks will be required for shows when they first begin taking place again, but the Markleys hope the theater will be open to full capacity.

"I wish we didn't have to wear masks, but I'm happy to wear a mask if it means that we can get together again," Sheila Markley said. "Other theaters have opted to try to open at a reduced capacity and for us, for our board it was not worth the risk. And so we feel good about going forward, taking all sorts of measures — protocols that we can. We're just going to ask people to wear masks. But I think we will be opening to full capacity."

He said the opera house had taken advantage of COVID-19-incuded downtime to make certain upgrades to the opera house, including its wifi system — an improvement he said was made via grant funding. It has also worked on a feasibility study about its possible expansion to a nearby building.

Sheila Markley said she was pleased just to be able to reopen the doors.

"We just had people flowing in just immediately," she said. "People are so happy to be out and about socializing. The decibel level in (the lobby) was deafening. And what we were doing is — new friends, old friends, new acquaintances — is just getting everybody in."

It was a networking opportunity and a chance for patrons and potential patrons of the opera house to learn more about the opera house and its community partners — to put names to faces — she said.

One of those community partners was Junction City Main Street.

"The opera house was instrumental in us getting that program — being accepted into that program," Sheila Markley said. "So they're going to be located on Seventh Street for their first temporary office and we wanted people to get acquainted with them. So what better way than to include them in an open house — a re-open house."