By Sheridan Block
At 125 years, Ouray's Grand Old Lady of Main Street is proving that you're never too old to party.
In honor of its 125th birthday, the Wright Opera House will host a celebration this Saturday with entertainment, prizes and, of course, a birthday cake.
To help celebrate the occasion, former Ouray resident and theater buff Tammy Kenning will return to provide musical entertainment.
Kenning, who now lives in Carbondale, was heavily involved with the theater community in Ouray, having performed for the Ouray County Performing Arts Guild, Ouray County Chorus and Ouray County Players. She also served as the middle and high school choral director at Ouray School from 1997 to 2004 and as the elementary music teacher at Ridgway Elementary from 2005 to 2009.
Joined by former performance partner Nancy Ziglar, Kenning will perform a mix of opera arias and show tunes during the Wright's birthday party.
"She has a beautiful voice and is a great actress," said Friends of the Wright fundraising chair Joyce Linn.
Partygoers will also have the opportunity to win several prizes at the event. Drawings will be held for a year's worth of free attendance to events at the Wright and a silent auction will include a weeklong stay at a luxury Park City condo during ski season.
And what's a birthday celebration without cake? Prepared by Friends of the Wright Opera House's chair Dee Williams, a special birthday cake will anchor the dessert table. Ouray Mayor Bob Risch and Ridgway Mayor John Clark will also be in attendance and offer some birthday wishes for the Wright.
"More than celebrating this birthday, the party celebrates the amazing manner in which the community is tackling the vision to purchase, renovate, preserve and prepare the Wright Opera House to serve future generations for another 125 years," said Williams.
The renovation project for the Wright began five years ago and with support from donors and the community has raised over $1 million so far. Friends of the Wright Opera House expect the project to continue for another five to seven years with an additional $2 million as an estimated cost.
Saturday evening's party will also give attendees the opportunity to see the progress of the project's "access phase," which includes the installation of an elevator, redesign of the stairway and remodeling of the upper and lower level lobbies as well as the addition of a box office.
A grant from the Colorado Historic Fund will be used to replace the roof and add insulation to the venue. The project is scheduled to begin within the next month.
"This is an enormous undertaking for our tiny county population to take on, but the determination and enthusiasm of the community provides optimism well worth celebrating with a big party," said Williams.
The birthday party begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $15 or at the door for $20. Proceeds will go toward the renovation fund. For more information, visit www.thewrightoperahouse.org.