June 19, 2010

The Opera House is Pocahontas County’s premier performing arts center. An intimate venue, with seating for about 250, the Opera House is part of the West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail. Its annual performance series brings more than a dozen performances on its stage each year, ranging from bluegrass to jazz, folk to musical theatre and everything in between.

Ornate pressed-metal panels adorn the ceiling, and the large performance hall is accented by a balustrade of American Chestnut, which wraps around three sides of the balcony. Light pours in through the building’s 32 windows.

At the turn of the 20th century, the railroad’s arrival in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, opened vast stands of virgin timber to commercial markets. The advent of rail travel and commerce opened isolated communities to all the activity and opportunity that followed the rails.

The first Opera House in Marlinton, known as “The Grand,” began showcasing vaudeville acts, dramatic productions and moving picture shows in 1907. The second and larger Opera House, on Third Avenue, towers above other buildings in town reminding us of the impact of the railroad. Built in 1910 by J. G. Tilton, the three-story concrete structure boasted a large stage and wrap-around balcony. The glory days of this grand facility were short lived. Mr. Tilton, also the publisher of the Marlinton Messenger ran into financial trouble and the building was sold in 1914. It was used for car sales and lumber storage for many years.

In 1991, Pocahontas County’s Historic Landmarks Commission purchased the Opera House and, with support from the community, worked to transform it from an abandoned and forgotten old building into a beautiful performance space and center for community activities, reopening its doors and bringing performances to its stage once again in 1999.

The century old building is now on the National Register of Historic Places and has become the performing arts center of Pocahontas County. On any given Friday or Saturday night the building is packed with people, who come from far and near to hear the sounds of artists like John McCutcheon, Chris Smither or the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys.

The Opera House also hosts a variety of community events, from open jam sessions to family movie nights. The building is also available for private rentals.

Thanks to the continued hard work of dedicated volunteers, and a supportive participatory community, the Opera House is once again the cultural heart of the community.

Performances at the Opera House are informal, family-friendly and open to all. Children 17 and under are admitted free. The entrance and main seating are handicapped accessible. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to attend; special accommodations can be arranged upon request. Advance tickets are available online or at the 4th Avenue Gallery in Marlinton. Cash only for tickets purchased at the door. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis.


June 26, 2014

Potluck is a feast of stories, songs, and poems that will satisfy your soul, lift your heart, and tickle your funny bone. Karen Vuranch, Julie Adams, and Colleen Anderson have gathered their very best and very favorite pieces about cookery and community—and the connections between them—into an hour-long live performance that’s full to the brim with laughter and love. [read more…]

A Grand Convulsion in Society: Cameos of Civil War Women in Song and Story

grand-convulsion-judith-aversAs part of the observation of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War singer-song writer Judith Avers and story teller John Burt present a program from the journals, letters and remembrances of women who lived during the time. The stories and songs you will hear will represent some of the lesser known women and their varying roles in the Civil War. Socialites, spies, women dressing as men and fighting in the war…you name it. The afternoon will be filled with surprises and an entirely different way to look at such a big part of American history–a time one matron in Washington, D.C., described as “a grand convulsion in society.” [read more…]

Chris Smither

June 25, 2014

Chris SmitherFrom his early days as the hot New Orleans transplant in the Boston folk scene, through his wilderness years, to his reemergence in the 1990s as one of America’s most distinctive acoustic performers, Chris Smither has always been his own man. He has zigged when others  have zagged, eschewing sophisticated studio tricks and staying true to his musical vision, surrounding himself with sympathetic musicians  ranging from Bonnie Raitt and the late Stephen Bruton to the next-generation kindred spirits with whom he works today.

It’s easy to see that Smither’s primary touchstone is acoustic blues, once describing his own guitar style as “one third Lightnin’ Hopkins, one third Mississippi John Hurt and one-third me.”  [read more…]

POSTPONED: Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line

February 3, 2014

Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line


Due to the winter storm warning for this evening (Sunday, March 16), Nora Jane Struthers and the Party Line will be rescheduled for a later date. The new date will be available on The Opera House website in the coming weeks. Please spread the word to other fans. [read more…]

The Young Country Tour

Young Country Tour: Chase Likens & Kayla Slone

The Pocahontas County Opera House presents American Idol semi-finalist Chase Likens and Wal-Mart-to-Grand Ole Opry singing sensation Kayla Slone on Saturday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m.

The two young country artists will each perform their own set as well as several duets. [read more…]

RESCHEDULED: It’s a Wonderful Life

November 25, 2013


[Due to the weather on December 8, this performance has been rescheduled for Sunday, December 15 at 2 p.m..]

This performance will benefit the Pocahontas County Family Resource Network’s Christmas Project 2013. Each Christmas, the Family Resource Network typically serves about 250 children from low-income families, partnering with work with the Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department, local churches and business to collect and distribute toys and warm winter clothing, as well as food. Donations of new, unwrapped toys will be accepted at the Opera House at the door for the December 15 performance.

It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play is written by Joe Landry and Directed by Cathey C. Sawyer. This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of live on-stage sound effects and an ensemble of five actors that bring a few dozen characters to the stage, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve. [read more…]

Ben Sollee

May 21, 2013

Ben SolleeMusicians often claim they are “giving themselves” to their listeners, but it’s rarely as true as on Ben Sollee’s fourth album, Half-Made Man, a revealing, deeply moving album that explores a man trying to figure himself out, just as we all are.  Known for his thrilling cello-playing that incorporates new techniques to create a unique mix of folk, bluegrass, jazz and R&B, Sollee possesses rough-smooth-smoky vocal stylings and a knack for intricate arrangements that has brought about comparisons to Sufjan Stevens.  Sollee shares himself completely with his audience, whether it be by personal lyrics, or his commitment to the environment. Sollee can often be found riding a bicycle to his concerts (cello strapped to the back), which have become legendary for their intimacy. [read more…]

Anna & Elizabeth

Anna & ElizabethAnna and Elizabeth build shows around a specific theme, each year, with new stories and songs they’ve collected. These pieces are then woven together in captivating, handcrafted shadow puppetry and scrolling illustrations they call “crankies.”

Their music is raw and sparse—the product of immersing themselves as deep as they can in the tradition, spending time visiting the old (and young) masters and folklorists, visiting relatives of musicians gone by and digging into the archives.

Anna and Elizabeth’s artwork draws from a wide range of theatrical and folk inspirations that result in papercuts, shadow puppets, papier mache puppets, and their quilted and collaged storytelling scrolls. [read more…]

The Pickers – May 17 and 18

January 17, 2013

The PickersIn the debut of this original comedy by Margaret Baker, Hazel and Lloyd Arbuckle are hunkering down for a West Virginia style snow storm when a pair of skiers become stranded at their home. They are at first delighted to find themselves hosts to a Senator from Virginia and his wife but as the evening wears on they begin to doubt the couple’s story about who they are and what their aborted trip to Snowshoe was really about. Suspicions mount until a game of Scrabble leads to gun play and the cold hard reality of being snowed-in with strangers bites both couples in the backside. Presented by Pocahontas County Drama Workshop.