THE POST-SIGNAL / Desiray Seaux
The Crowley Rotarians were updated on upcoming events of the Grand Opera House. At the meeting were Suzie Webb, president-elect, left; L.J. Gielen of the Grand, center; and Glen Howie Jr., Rotary board member.
Rotarians hear Grand Opera House update
The Grand Opera House of the South was built in 1901 by David E. Lyons.
The Daily Signal, a parent paper of today’s Crowley Post-Signal, described it as a “beautiful little play house.”
According the Grand’s website, construction costs were $18,000 and the construction was made using virgin Louisiana cypress, pine and oak.
In those days, the Grand was used for vaudeville and minstrel performances and later for silent movies and eventually talkies.
The theater stayed open for 39 years and many famous people such as Babe Ruth, Clark Gable, Huey Long and Madame de Vilchez-Bizzet of the Paris Opera preformed on the stage.
Then the stage went dark for 69 years.
In 1999 the Gielen family purchased the building and, with the help of many people, \the Grand under went a $4.5 million restoration/renovation.
In 2008 the Grand Opera House of the South reopened its doors and began hosting world-class acts on the stage again.
Board member L.J. Gielen spoke of The Grand to members of the Rotary Club of Crowley earlier this week, opening his address by thanking all the season ticket holders present as well as current and past board members.
Then he went on to explain that a lot of towns try to restore a historic main street and re-do buildings but “you must take closed theaters and restore them and the rest will follow.”
Luckily, for the citizen’s of Crowley, the theater was preserved because it was used for storage space for Dixie Hardware, the store that operated on the main floor for many years.
When speaking of the many old theater/opera houses, Gielen said, “Of the 3 percent that are left standing, only 1 percent of old opera houses are being used for theater/opera houses.”
The Grand Opera House is 117 years old. When the contractor evaluated the venue prior to renovation he said it was in nearly mint condition.
Gielen then alluded to a possible ghost picture that was taken at the most recent event, Eve of the Eve, a fund-raiser for the Grand held the night before New Years Eve.
There has been speculation for years that the old theater is haunted.
However, in modern times the theater is not only beautiful but now serves a fully functioning state-of-the-art performance venue.
The 300-seat theater is hosting a mix of events in the upcoming months. Those events include
• Jan. 26 - The Lost Bayou Ramblers (a punk, psychedelic and hypnotic Cajun Rhythms band. They are Grammy nominees and certain to bring a new twist and level to Cajun music.)
• Feb. 2 - Resurrection - A Journey Tribute band (This will feature one hit single after another, offering a perfect blend of songs to enthrall all levels of Journey fans.)
• Feb. 16 - Goldilocks and the three Bears (The Birmingham Theatre will preform this classic children’s story. This show is great for those 6 and under.)
• March 3 - Cajun Accordion Kings/Steve Riley (will showcase many of the area’s top accordion players. Riley’s guests have all greatly influenced the music of Cajun Country.)
• March 12 - Johnny Peers and The Muttville Comix (will have everyone “howling” in their seats as Johnny leads over a dozen dogs through challenging and hilarious tricks.)
• April 23 - Caesar (closes out the “season of performances.” This jazz singer, who sounds like Nat King Cole with his baritone voice, will serenade all. Ceaser’s exquisite renditions take you back to the days of true romance.)
All information about the upcoming events as well as ticket sales can be located on the Grands website at www.thegrandoperahouse.org