Hoover..Nobody Does it Like You!
by Melissa Wimbish
Rolling down Interstate 70 through Kansas is arguably one of the most devastating experiences human beings can encounter. Hundreds of miles of East, West, childhood homes of dead important people, pornography shacks, and lonely gas stations are pretty much all one can expect on a trek across the “Breadbasket.” I can say these things because I’m from Kansas. Where that one river joins that other river – Junction City – is where I first learned that there were such things as voice teachers and lessons and auditions and everything else that hums and rattles and exists to excrete music. As silly as I feel now about the private concerts to which I subjected my fellow teammates during recess in small huddles on the football field, this is where my musical training began. “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, “Understanding” by Xscape, and “What About Your Friends” by TLC were my top 3 hits and I performed them whenever I had an audience, albeit captive. This is the Midwest. It may not always happen like this, but in some cases it does, and doesn’t that make it more of a miracle? Keep this in mind on your next drive past exit 299 where, a couple of miles into town, a potential miracle sits on 7th street.
The C.L. Hoover Opera House has been in and out of the life of Junction City since it was approved for construction in 1880. In its lifetime, it has served as a city hall, fire station, movie theater, storage unit, and even a safe haven for soldiers during World War I. A very brief history of the building alone would read: “It was built, collapsed, remodeled, burnt down, restructured, refurbished, gutted and remodeled again, forgotten, and restored.” Sounds like my life, except for the restored part…(that’s humor, not a cry for help, I promise).
After a multi-million dollar renovation, the opera house in Junction City is a remarkable venue and offers many possibilities to this community of audience members and future performers of the arts. For those of you who grew up in more artistically endowed communities, where “the Met” may have been part of your vocabulary at say, 10 instead of 22, or where you may have heard the name “Renee Fleming” and known she was world-famous instead of thinking, “Isn’t that the lady that’s in my Music History class?” take a moment to imagine life with Keith Sweat as the main man in music as opposed to Luciano Pavarotti. First of all, with the last name “Sweat” we already have a real problem.
Point is, these forgotten places in the world harbor dreams as real as the ones that live in the big city, but in most cases without very many tools. When opera isn’t necessarily “in demand” in the heartland, a spot like the C.L. Hoover Opera House deserves special mention as it can only exist and succeed with the support of an extremely dedicated community, like all works of art. In restoring and keeping the venues of arts as sacred as holy places, we provide new beginnings where they seem the most unlikely.
For more information about the C.L. Hoover Opera House visit http://www.jcoperahouse.org
Melissa Wimbish is one of the founders and directors of Operagasm.com. You can learn more about Melissa under the ‘About Us’ tab on the top of the page. Her article will be featured on Operagasm.com every Monday. Melissa welcomes you to comment on her article or email her privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.