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Published: Wednesday, 7/30/2008

Pemberville's Opera House gearing up for concert series

BY MEREDITH BYERS
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Landry Sheets holds his 19-month-old daughter, Emerson, at a chicken barbecue near the Pemberville Opera House and talks to Eileen Schuerman, seated left, and Inga Offerman, right. Landry Sheets holds his 19-month-old daughter, Emerson, at a chicken barbecue near the Pemberville Opera House and talks to Eileen Schuerman, seated left, and Inga Offerman, right.
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PEMBERVILLE - Residents in Pemberville will soon be able to see live theater in their own village.

With high prices for gasoline and some forms of entertainment, the Pemberville Opera House has decided to present "Live in the House," its first series of concerts since its renovation in 2001.

"It's so reasonable. It's a chance to have something local where people can get live entertainment at a reasonable price and not have to drive too far," Carol Bailey, director of entertainment for the Opera House, said of tickets that are $10 per show or $75 for the season.

Built in 1891, the Pemberville Opera House operated as a vaudeville theater. It closed during World War II, fell into disrepair, and was used for storage.

The Opera House's restoration process was overseen by the Pemberville Opera House Restoration committee, formed by historical society members.

The group raised money by presenting plays, holding auctions, and soliciting donations. The opera house also received $40,000 from the state of Ohio from funds for historic restoration. It was rededicated at Pemberville's Autumnfest in October 1999.

Marian Welling adds a dab of whipped topping to the peach pie of her brother-in-law, Robert Romaker of Perrysburg. Marian Welling adds a dab of whipped topping to the peach pie of her brother-in-law, Robert Romaker of Perrysburg.
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While the Opera House has been home to several local events since its restoration, it has not held a regular series of concerts.

The upcoming concerts will be at 7:30 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month from September through May.

The first concert Sept. 6 features the North Coast Concert Band, a group of about 70 musicians from northwest Ohio performing American band music.

Other events include an Oct. 4 showing of Way Down East, a silent film starring Lillian Gish, a local star who made her acting debut in the opera house of the southeastern Wood County community of Risingsun before going on to appear in more than 100 films. The film showing also includes pianist Damien Stout; the Tower Brass quintet, a Bowling Green-based group, on Nov. 1; a holiday-themed program on Dec. 7; Sojourners Quartet, a southern gospel group from Findlay on Jan. 3, and historians Michael and Jacqueline Hurwitz who will portray Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, as the two discuss the politics and the Civil War on Feb. 7. The event is planned as a celebration of Mr. Lincoln's 200th birthday in 2009.

Rick Prater and the Midnight Travelers, a bluegrass band from western Ohio, will perform March 7; Maiden's IV, a Celtic group, is to perform on April 4, and the series will culminate May 2 with Opus 181, a vocal group from Bowling Green, and Jiung Yoon, a graduate student at Bowling Green State University who is studying piano performance.

In addition to the concert series, the opera house is offering the Pemberville Children's Theatre Workshop camp throughout the summer.

The camp, designed for children entering grades three through seven, meets weekly and will perform Fairy Tale Courtroom on Saturday.

The theater is overseen by the Opera House Team, which operates as a subcommittee to the Pemberville-Freedom Area Historical Society, which has about 90 members.

Todd Sheets, of Pemberville, who owns Beeker's General Store on Front Street, said the continuity of the series is beneficial to the opera house.

"We're hoping that by showcasing a season, people will remember that there is something in Pemberville," he said of the village of 1,344 people.

Mrs. Bailey, who operates a piano-tuning service with her husband, John, said many Pemberville residents are unaware of the opera house.

"People will have a chance to see the gem of the opera house. It's a lovely facility and people don't know it's there," she said.



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