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Are you a lover of jazz? Do you miss the taste of New Orleans food? Then you are in luck. Mark your calendar for Sunday, September 25, 2011 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Mike Vax and the Great American Jazz Band has been performing together for over 35 years. They bring dynamic excitement to audiences wherever they appear. This group attains a swinging jazz feel, while playing tunes from the late 1800’ through today.

$19.95 per person includes brunch, a glass of house champagne and entertainment.

Seating is limited! Please call 928.445.2970. Pine Cone Inn, 1245 White Spar Road, Prescott, Arizona.

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Mike Vax on trumpet

Mike Vax on trumpet

The Prescott Jazz Summit and the Highlands Center are collaborating to present two more exciting jazz concerts in a beautiful setting.

SATURDAY, JULY 9th Margo Reed and Delphine Cortez (Two of the most popular vocalists in the Phoenix area) with Joel Robin-Piano/Keyboard Bass, Tony Vacca-Saxophone, and Cleve Huff-Drums. (Mike Vax, director, will be sitting in on trumpet/flugelhorn.)

SATURDAY, AUGUST 13th Renee Patrick (New vocal sensation in Phoenix) Mike Vax-Trumpet, Tony Vacca-Saxophone, Stan Sorenson-guitar, Ted Sistrunk-bass, and

Wes Anderson-drums

Place: The Highlands Center Amphitheater, 1375 Walker Road, Prescott 86303

             (Near Lynx Lake)

Time: July 9th and August 13th –7:00 PM.  Doors open 1 hour early.

           Refreshments will be available for purchase from the Highlands Center.

TICKETS: $15 each performance

Information:

The Prescott Jazz Summit: 928-830-2462  *  The Highlands Center: 928-776-9550

Tickets available at: www.prescottjazz.com, The Highlands Center

Gift Shop, and at the door on the evenings of the engagements

DON’T FORGET THE PRESCOTT JAZZ SUMMIT – AUGUST 26-28!

© December 7 2010 Jack D. Wilson

Dr. Roy Breiling
DrBreiling
Ed Cornett
Ed Cornett
Matthew Jackson
Matthew Jackson
David Russell

DavidRussell

Photographs by Jack D. Wilson

The Yavapai College Music Department presented an “Evening of Jazz” on Monday, December 6, 2010 in the Yavapai Performance Hall. It featured not one, but two Big Band ensembles, the Roughriders and the Trailblazers. Dr. Roy Breiling was the music director. Cost of admission was $5.00- and was free to youngsters 14 and under. That is a real bargain!

There is a FREE student concert tonight, Tuesday December 7 at 7:00 PM at Yavapai College Performance Hall.

The program had a holiday theme, but songs were arranged for Big Band Jazz. Here is one of the songs by the Roughriders.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town

Roughriders Big Band

Here is a sampling from what they played.

There was an intermission after the Roughriders completed their numbers, then the Trailblazers Big Band took the stage.

Trailblazers

Here is a video clip of the first two numbers by the Trailblazers:

Deck The Halls and I Came Upon a Midnight Clear – that featured a flugelhorn.

Photo and video credits

All photographs and videos by Jack D. Wilson. Unauthorized use prohibited without prior permission.

Feedback

If you found this article helpful, please leave a comment, Tweet it (button below) or forward to a friend. If I missed something, leave a comment and I will try to update the information. You can also subscribe to get future articles emailed to you.

Jack D. Wilson first visited Prescott in 1995 and has been a resident since 2000. He took a sojourn into politics and was the mayor of Prescott Arizona from Nov. 2007 – Nov. 2009. He now writes a couple of blogs, is President of the Prescott Frontier Days Community Service Foundation and Group Leader of the UsToo Prescott-area Prostate Cancer Support Group.

© 2010 by Jack D. Wilson

RockyHorrorPoster

My wife Liz and I remember attending the original stage production of this wild “musical” show over 35 years ago at the Royal Court Theatre in staid London. On Saturday October 23 at 7PM we attended the Lonesome Valley Playhouse’s presentation of Prescott Independent Theatre’s production at the Elks Opera House in what some would say is staid Prescott. I think the pictures of some members of the audience dressed “in character” will dispel that conclusion. The ole town is a changing!

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a cult tradition, some would say the classic cult tradition. It is a parody and a cross between science fiction and B-movie horror films.

The original stage play was transformed into a movie in 1975 and is still being shown at midnight showings around the world. It has a life of its own where people come dressed as their favorite character, several phrases are mirrored by the audience and there are points where things are thrown. That prompted the Elks Opera House to display the following sign at several places:

RockyCautionSign

I talked to Deputy City Manager Laurie Hadley after the Saturday night performance and they did not have to eject anyone during that performance. However, on Friday they did have to eject someone.

The show

Opening

The show opens with a criminologist (Olga Salazar from Jerome) narrating and setting the scene of Brad and Janet getting engaged and taking a drive where their car breaks down. They find themselves lost and with a flat tire on a cold and rainy, late November evening, but Brad remembers a castle they passed a few miles back. And then the fun begins…BradJanet2

At the beginning of the show Brad Majors and Janet Weiss are depicted as “square” innocents, but that would soon change radically.

Musical Numbers

This is a musical and there are several musical numbers. The first was “The Time Warp.” See the Wikipedia entry for a complete synopsis of the stage production and movie: The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Samples from the production

GoodShot1

Brad and Janet soon learn this is no normal castle!

GoodShot2

From one of the musical numbers, doing “The Time Warp.”

GoodShot3

And here we have Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania and his creation Rocky Horror.

The seduction of Janet and Brad

That night Dr. Frank-N-Furter does serial seductions of both Janet then Brad. The dialogue in both seduction scenes is the same.

Brad1 Brad2 Brad3

After his seduction by Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Brad is transformed.

Janet2 Janet1 

After her seduction by Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Janet tries to get it on with Rocky Horror.

GoodShot6

Staid Brad transformed.

GoodShot4

 

GoodShot5

Dr. Frank-N-Furter near the end of the show in the “I’m Going Home” musical number.

Audience pictures

This performance drew a large crowd. The balcony was very popular for those dress “in character” and it was nearly filled. The main floor was about 3/4 full.

Crowd1

Counter help

CounterService

Here we have Joseph Brehm, City of Prescott Management Analyst (black shirt) and Laurie Hadley (Deputy City Manager) working the concession counter. No wine or beer was available (drat) as they are still waiting for approval of their liquor license from the state.

“In character”

There were many (upwards of twenty) audience members dressed “in character” and this is an example:

Lobby1

This is a male dressed in drag as the lead character Dr. Frank-N-Furter.  I shot this during intermission.

Playbill

The cast list, director and producer courtesy of Andrew Johnson-Schmit.

  • BRAD MAJORS – Jayk Boomer
  • JANET WEISS – Valerye Jeffries
  • CRIMINOLOGIST – Olga Salazar
  • FRANK N. FURTER – Christopher Galinski
  • MAGENTA – Danica Jeffries
  • RIFF-RAFF – Jacob d’Armand
  • COLUMBIA – Willa Cowan
  • EDDIE/DR. SCOTT – Toni Rios
  • Directed by Jacob d’Armand
  • Produced by Clyde Neville
Photo credits

All photographs by Jack D. Wilson. Unauthorized use prohibited without prior permission.

Feedback

If you found this article helpful, please leave a comment or forward to a friend. If I missed something that you found along the way, leave a comment and I will try to update the information.

Jack D. Wilson first visited Prescott in 1995 and has been a resident since 2000. He took a sojourn into politics and was the mayor of Prescott Arizona from Nov. 2007 – Nov. 2009. He now writes a couple of blogs and is President of the Prescott Frontier Days Community Service Foundation.

Mike Vax on trumpet

Mike Vax on trumpet

 

 The 10th Annual Prescott Jazz Summit will heat up Prescott on August 27-29 at multiple venues. This year’s theme is A Tribute to the Great BIG BANDS.   

Ballroom dancing added!   

The Prescott Jazz Summit is always eagerly awaited by jazz aficionados, but this year something new has been added – dancing! On Friday evening and Saturday afternoon there will be live music in multiple locations with ballroom dancing at Hotel St. Michael’s historic hardwood floor ballroom. Here is your chance to enjoy some great live music plus dancing!     

Friday August 27, 2010 – 7:30 – 10:30pm – $25.00   Three simultaneous concerts – one ticket is good at all concerts:    

  • Hassayampa Inn’s Arizona Ballroom (nightclub style)
  • Hassayampa Inn’s Marina Ballroom (nightclub style)
  • Dancing at Hotel St. Michael’s historic hardwood floor ballroom

Saturday August 28, 2010 – 1:00 – 4:00pm – $20.00     

  • Concert at the Hassayampa Inn’s Arizona ballroom
  • Dancing at Hotel St. Michael’s historic hardwood floor ballroom
      (one ticket is good for both)

Online information and tickets at http://www.prescottjazz.com/ Or call (928) 771-1268 for information. Tickets can also be purchased at the Hassayampa Inn (122 E. Gurley) or at the Prescott Chamber of Commerce (117 W. Goodwin ST).

I monitor a number of blogs focused on tourism promotion and came across a really interesting post on Joanne Steele’s blog, RuralTourismMarketing.com. It asks the question Can The Arts Save Your Small Town?  I thought this was an interesting question because of the strength of Prescott’s arts community with such things as the 4th Friday Arts Walk, Elks Opera House Restoration and the new TIS Gallery.

Joanne starts “The topic of our monthly Revitalization Team meeting was to be art as an economic development tool. Who should appear at my info table at our small town summer festival but an expert in art towns!”

To see her very interesting post in it entirety, go to Can The Arts Save Your Small Town?

© 2010 Parker Anderson and Jack D. Wilson   

Elks Opera House restored interior - 7-16-2010 - photo by Jack D. Wilson

Elks Opera House restored interior - 7-16-2010 - photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Elks Opera House – reaching the twin pinnacles

This is the seventh and final installment in this series about the Elks Opera House in Prescott Arizona. The series opened with a capsule history of the founding of Prescott in 1864. The previous installment covered the restoration the Elks Opera House has undergone. It now has reached twin pinnacles, representing the best of the past and the best of the present. The best of the past is the opulent and painstaking restoration it underwent. The best of the present are the hidden innards that allow for productions of any kind. That brings us to a point of commencement on this journey of the Elks Opera House. When it was all over the Elks Opera House Foundation raised over two-million dollars in support of the restoration. The outpouring of public support speaks volumes about the importance of the Elks in this community.   

Point of commencement

It is somewhat bittersweet to reach the final installment in this series, so I would like to suggest this is not the end of our journey, but a new beginning. I used the term “point of commencement” to describe where the Elks is today. It is at the beginning of a new journey. The Elks building is a condominium with two pieces. The Elks Opera House, which is owned by the City of Prescott and the remainder of the building, owned by a law firm. The City of Prescott would like to get out of the theater management business. The law firm that owns the rest of the building would like to sell their interest. In my opinion, the ideal situation for the Elks Opera House Foundation is to own and manage the entire building, because then it would be financially viable and sustainable.   

A call to action

Now that the restoration of the Elks Opera House is complete, it is time to finish the rest of the journey. The Elks Opera House Foundation needs to raise the funds to buy the portion of the Elks building owned by the law firm. The foundation has been raising funds for years and some of the board members could use some help. Prescott has been a retirement destination since the 1990’s Money Magazine article brought it to prominence. If you retired here and have played golf for a couple of years and your inner heart tells you “there is more for you to do,” you may be a good candidate to help the foundation.   

Previous articles in this series

This series of articles covered the history of the Elks Opera House, which has been renovated and restored at a cost exceeding $2-million. The renovated Elks Opera House is spectacular and represents a unique piece of Americana. Published posts in the series include:   

Elks Opera House – A comprehensive history of one of Prescott’s gems   

Early History of the Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House   

Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House 1910-1942   

Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House – Later History 1943-1980   

Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House – Turmoil 1981-1999   

Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House – Resurrection and preservation 2000-2008   

Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House – Restoration par excellence (2009-2010)   

If you have fond memories of the Elks, we encourage you to share those via a comment. Also, please let your friends know about this series of articles about a true gem in Prescott Arizona.   

Parker Anderson is the official Historian of the Elks Opera House. He spent thousands of hours compiling all known bookings in the first 100 years of the Opera House.   

Jack Wilson is the former Mayor of Prescott Arizona. He has had a long interest in history having founded two neighborhood historic societies in Chicago. He was instrumental in providing the funds that allowed “Bill the Elk” to return from Prescott Valley to his rightful perch atop the Elks Opera House. As president of the Thumb Butte Questers, he coordinated the fund-raising match with Prescott Quester chapters for the Arizona Heritage Fund grant that was used to restore the inner or second lobby.

© 2010 Parker Anderson and Jack D. Wilson  

The prior installment covered the period of “Resurrection and preservation,” 2000-2008. This was when the City of Prescott purchased the Elks Opera House (as a condominium portion of the Elks building) and the Elks Opera House Foundation was organized by a group of Prescott citizens in late 2002 as a non-profit, tax-exempt Arizona corporation. The initial steps at restoring the Elks Opera House occurred; the restoration of the outer and inner lobbies and the return of “Bill the Elk” to his perch atop the Elks Opera House. These seminal efforts were important forbearers of the much larger and comprehensive restoration effort covered in this installment.  

Before and after the restoration

Before the restoration

2006 Elks Opera House Interior before restoration

2006 Elks Opera House Interior before restoration

 

Shown above is a photograph of the Elks Opera House before restoration, circa 2006. Note the “accordion folds” to stage left and stage right covering where the Opera boxes used to be. The years of “modernization” had not been kind to this grand old lady. However, better days were coming with a restoration of the Elks Opera House. This was a major restoration involving almost every aspect of the theater and it could not be done on a piecemeal basis. It required that the Elks Opera House be shut down for the duration of the restoration project, what thespians call the “house going dark.”  

After the restoration

Elks Opera House after restoration -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Elks Opera House after restoration -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

I took the picture above on Monday, July 19, 2010. Final cleanup and equipment testing was underway. There had been a problem with the stage grand drape and it was still in New York being modified but the stage grand valance was in place. The eight Opera Boxes look fantastic. Everywhere you look there are little surprises, as the attention to detail during this restoration was outstanding. We will see many examples of that as we proceed to look in detail at the actual restoration.  

House “goes dark”

I was the mayor of Prescott Arizona when the Elks Opera House ‘went dark” on July 1, 2009 to begin a yearlong restoration process; it reopens on July 24, 2010 with a gala celebration featuring selections from the Phoenix Opera. Prodigious fund raising by the Elks Opera House foundation raised more than $1.7 million for this restoration. An early donation of $1-million dollars from the Harold James Family Trust kicked the fund raising into high gear (the trust later added an additional $250,000 donation).  

April 12, 2010 Former Prescott Mayor Jack Wilson and Mic Fenech, City of Prescott Administrative Services Manager, inspecting new Opera Boxes -- photo by Kerry Wilson

 

I was involved with historic preservation and restoration for nearly 20 years and this project exemplifies the painstaking planning and attention to details required for a great restoration. I closely monitored the restoration process and the results are truly breathtaking. The end product will surprise many Prescott residents who have fond memories of the Elks as a movie theater; hence I thought the title “Restoration par excellence” was fitting.  

Restoration highlights

This restoration brings the Elks back to its splendor when it opened in 1905. I have tried to present a sampling of the restoration highlights in this article; however, you cannot fully appreciate what has been accomplished until you actually see it. Please note that the following photos were taken on July 16 and July 19 while final restoration was still in progress.  

Restoring the original marquee

Marquee restored - photo by Jack D. Wilson

Marquee restored -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

When the newer marquee was removed, the original marquee was found underneath – that was a pleasant surprise.  

Removing façade over exterior and restoring ticket booth

Restored ticket booth -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Restored ticket booth -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Here is the restored ticket booth that gives a hint of the restoration inside.  

Exterior surfaces uncovered during restoration -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Exterior surfaces uncovered during restoration -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

When the modern façade was removed, the original exterior façade was discover intact – again, another pleasant surprise.  

New plush carpet in the lobby and stairway to the balcony.

New lobby carpeting -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

New lobby carpeting -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

New carpeting was install throughout the Elks. Here are the lobbies with the stairway to the balcony. This is excellent quality carpet with excellent padding.  

Balcony

Entrance to balcony with drapes -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Entrance to balcony with drapes -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Here we see the balcony entrance through a set of plush drapes. Note the padded top on the front balcony rail.  

Wider shot of the completed balcony -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Wider shot of the completed balcony -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

The balcony was near collapse when the restoration began. Haley Construction shored it up with steel beams.  

Where the balcony boxes stairway used to be -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Where the balcony boxes stairway used to be -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Originally there were stairways to the balcony Opera Boxes. These are long gone, but you can see where they were.  

Restoring Opera Boxes

Four of the eight Opera Boxes -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Four of the eight Opera Boxes -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

An opera house needs opera boxes and now it has them; the eight opera boxes including the Elks head decoration and fancy fringes have been restored. Each set of two boxes will have an attendant at performances allowing you to order refreshments of your choice.  

Getting new seats in the house

Old main floor seats - photo by Jack D. Wilson

Old main floor seats - photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

One of the common complaints about the Elks before this restoration was about the uncomfortable seats. I think people will enjoy the new seats, I tried one and they are quite comfortable.  

New main floor seats - photo by Jack D. Wilson

New main floor seats - photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

New main floor seats - frame detail -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

New main floor seats - frame detail -- photo by Jack D. Wilson


Tin ceiling, stenciling and decorative plasterwork

Arch with tin ceiling, stenciling and decorative plaster -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Arch with tin ceiling, stenciling and decorative plaster -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

This article is called “Restoration par excellence” and I attribute much of that to painstaking planning that proceeded the restoration and an absolute focus on getting the details correct. This is quite evident in the restoration of the beautiful tin ceiling, stenciling and ornamental plasterwork throughout the theater. In this era of planned obsolescence, here we have a celebration the best in handcrafted details. 

Outside face of upper Opera Box -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Outside face of upper Opera Box -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Above to the right is a molded decorative plaster column with gold embellishment next to the Opera Box. On the Opera Box your eye is drawn to the Elks head, which is surrounded by additional decorative plaster with gold embellishment. But look closely at the bottom edge of the Opera Box – there are green tassels running along the edge! 

Column capital with gold embellishment -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Column capital with gold embellishment -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Infrastructure Improvements

Besides the painstaking restoration, attention was paid to ensure equipment and facilities for productions are state of the art.  

  1. New steel beam supports for the balcony which was close to collapse when the restoration began.
  2. Updating the grid work on the stage
  3. Updating the lighting and sound equipment. The sound system upgrade includes a 9” under-floor channel from the alley behind the house to the stage and to a sound control console. That will allow national acts to park a sound trailer in the alley and connect through the channel. Provisions were also made for hanging large speakers in front of the stage for such acts.
  4. Installing a sprinkler system.
  5. Providing state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment to support meetings and conferences. In addition to dual digital projection facilities this includes High Definition TV upload and download and Internet access.
  6. Two flat screen monitors in the lobby, one at the balcony stairs and one at the concession stand, to display announcements and messages.

Thank You to the workers that made this happen

There were over seventy people involved in the 13-month restoration project and it is impossible to name everyone, but here is a big Thank You to the people that labored for over a year to actually do the restoration:  

  • Local architectural firm Otwell Associates Architects (Bill Otwell owner) was responsible for the overall planning with Wayne Sanford as the Project Architect.
  • Local contractor Haley Construction managed the construction, with Project Manager Lee Vega overseeing the day-to-day work.
  • The restoration of the intricate plaster moldings, stenciling work and faux finishes was due to two firms:
  • Evergreene, a nationally known historic preservation firm and
  • Local firm Custom Surface Innovation Inc. (owners Shari Stura and Luis Sanjurjo). The tri-layered vinyl stage backdrops are the work of Custom Surface Innovation Inc. I talked to one of the principal of that firm, Shari Stura, while shooting photographs of the restoration and found out she moved to Prescott from Chicago, as I had.
    • Local firm A&B Signs replicated the replacement light ring from a partial photograph. Prescott native Perry Wieweck is president of A&B Signs.
    • Dawn Castaneda, Elks Opera House Manager
    • Mic Fenech, Administrative Services Manager, City of Prescott 

And we need to thank the Elks Opera House Foundation and the donors that allowed this Prescott gem to be restored to perfection 

Plaque "History Beckons" with major donors acknowledged - photo by Jack D. Wilson

Plaque "History Beckons" with major donors acknowledged - photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

This is the sixth in a series about the Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House in Prescott Arizona. We hope that you have enjoyed this comprehensive history of the Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House. In the next and final installment, we will cover the future of the Elks Opera House.  

If you have fond memories of the Elks, we encourage you to share those via a comment. Also, please let your friends know about this series of articles about a true gem in Prescott Arizona.  

About the authors  

Parker Anderson is the official Historian of the Elks Opera House. He spent thousands of hours compiling all known bookings in the first 100 years of the Opera House.  

Jack Wilson is the former Mayor of Prescott Arizona. He has had a long interest in history having founded two neighborhood historic societies in Chicago. He was instrumental in providing the funds that returned “Bill the Elk” from Prescott Valley to his rightful perch atop the Elks Opera House. As president of the Thumb Butte Questers, he coordinated the fund raising match with Prescott Quester chapters for the Arizona Heritage Fund grant that was used to restore the inner or second lobby. 

© 2010 Parker Anderson and Jack D. Wilson     

Courtesy Chris Baker via stock.xchng 1238327

Courtesy Chris Baker via stock.xchng 1238327

Update note: The power of the Internet and blogs by citizen journalists has proved itself again. After this installment was originally published, emails were received first from Roger Pearsall and then from Ron Swartz, partners and founders of Timberline Productions. They provided additional information about their involvement in the renovation of the Elks, including a 1982 brochure for the Gala Re-Opening that we had not seen before. Roger and Ron rented a building on Union Street owned by Don Head that was directly behind the Elks. That building housed Timberline Production while it was in Prescott. It grew into a nationally recognized corporate events and presentation business based in Phoenix with 150 employees at one time Thank you Roger and Ron for sharing your part in the history of the Elks Opera House.

This installment is called “Turmoil” as the period from 1981-1999 was turbulent and saw many changes and challenges where the very existence of the Elks Opera House was called into question. But, before we get into that period of time, let us flash back to one of the events that was a precursor for the turmoil – the move of “Bill the Elk” to Prescott Valley.

Removal of “Bill the Elk”

“Bill” was removed 1971 and taken to the Elks Club, B.P.O.E. #330 when they moved to their new building in Prescott Valley. He was destined to stay in Prescott Valley for 35 years before his return to Prescott. A future installment will go into detail about the return, restoration and reinstallation of “Bill the Elk” atop the Elks Opera House.

New Management

After the long-time manager Claude Cline retired in 1980, owners Don Head and Phil Toci signed with a group called Timberline Productions to take over management of the Elks Opera House. Timberline continued to run the Elks as a movie theater until very early 1982 (January or February), when Don Head and Phil Toci announced they were going to bring back live entertainment full-time.

In a January 19, 2011 email to Parker Anderson, Ronald Swartz relates the involvement of Timberline Productions with the Elks Opera House:

“My partner, Roger Pearsall, and I had expressed our interest in the theatre as a historic site to owners Don Head and Phil Toci. Don approached us to help them return the theatre to operating condition so that motion pictures could once again be shown. Also, it was Don Head’s longer term desire to bring live professional theatre to Prescott. We agreed to assist with the renovation and the replacement of the motion picture equipment. Bill Otwell (Otwell & Associates) was brought in to oversee the rehab. 

The lobby was reconfigured with a new concession stand and new rear entrance to the auditorium. Restrooms were moved and rebuilt. The projection booth was upgraded, additional power provided for new projectors and film platters. Rigging in the stage house was re-assessed. A new main curtain and projection screen were installed by Curran Productions of Los Angeles (The winch and rigging for the chandelier were also installed at that time). The theatre interior was repainted and the seats reupholstered. House lighting was upgraded with replica period brass fixtures. Upon completion, the theatre was re-opened as the Elks Opera House. Timberline Productions managed the operation of the theatre as a movie theatre for a period of approximately two years. The financing as well as the direction of the renovation was in the hands of the owners, Head & Toci.

In the fall of 1981, Don Head expressed his desire to move to live theatre. The role of Timberline Productions in the Elks Opera House changed to that of technical advisors. Don Head created the Prescott Center for the Performing Arts as a non-profit organization to run the theatre and establish a live theatre season. He hired Gilbert Laurence from Los Angeles to be Managing Director. Laurence hired the Megaw Theatre, Inc. of Northridge CA to stage a season of plays that included Romantic Comedy by Bernard Slade, The Rainmaker by Horton Foote, The Corn is Green by Emlyn Williams and the musical, Company by Stephen Sondheim. These were all first-class productions with scenery, lighting and professional equity-waver casts. The productions were well received by those who saw them but alas, the top ticket price of ten dollars was a little steep for the locals who complained “Why spend 10 bucks to see people we don’t know when we can go to the Fine Arts and for 4 bucks see all of our friends in Music Man and the HS band will perform as well.” Who can counter an argument like that. Other lesser groups were booked with similar results. There were a couple of fine classical concerts that performed in the Elks that fall with one being a performance of the Phoenix Symphony (They raved about the acoustics).

Timberline Productions was not active in the management or booking of the Elks Opera House after the establishment of the Prescott Center for the Performing arts.”

The Prescott Center for the Performing Arts were fine people who had the best of intentions, but they booked top quality professional before they had the money to pay for them–they counted on advance ticket sales to bring in this money, and when the ticket sales did not materialize, disaster hit.  The acts cancelled in droves, and the stewards took to holding rummage sales in a desperate bid to raise money. Acts that did perform included the noted actor Kevin McCarthy playing Harry Truman in a one-man show, GIVE ‘EM HELL, HARRY! Also the Sons of the Pioneers performed. However, many shows cancelled because they were not paid, including Vincent Price who was going to appear live, and did not and a professional tour company of MAN OF LA MANCHA also cancelled.

New Ownership

While this was going on, ownership of the theater changed again.  Don Head and Phil Toci sold the Elks to the Arizona Community Foundation.  Simultaneously, this was when the Elks building was divided into two separate properties, condominium style. The Arizona Community Foundation went looking for new stewards to manage the Elks.  Yavapai College stepped forward and took over management until 1992, when they built their own performance hall.  Then Prescott College managed the Elks until 1999.  In a July 24, 1994 Daily Courier article, reporter Karen Despain commented that:

“Kristi Edwards is the Elks Theater General Manager. She emphasizes the perennial “community theater” orientation of the Elks Theater  …present day productions feature a spectrum of Prescott College Programs, the Cowboy Poets, a dancers’ workshop recital each May, at least one Prescott Fine Arts Association event a year, the Prescottones, an actors workshop and, of course, the Arizona Jamboree musical shows during the summer months, Edwards said.”

During the tenure of both colleges, the Elks Opera House hosted a wide variety of entertainments, both professional and locally produced.

90th Anniversary

On July 24, 1994 Karen Despain was working as a reporter for the Daily Courier and wrote the article “Elks Theatre to celebrate 90th anniversary (Landmark ‘opera house’ is grande dame of Prescott community performances).” The story chronicled an anniversary party planned for February 18, 1995:

“The Soiree will begin with a champagne reception and dinner at the Hassayampa Inn.  Then, celebrants will cross Gurley Street, where they will be treated to a stage play. Dessert and coffee with the cast after the performance will cap this momentous event.”

Courier reporter Lauren Millette on September 22, 1995 wrote “Elks Theater plans beer tasting benefit” which quoted Kristi Edwards, Elks Theater manager stating

“Approximately 50 of America’s finest microbrews and classic beers from all over the world will be served as a way of raising funds to preserve and repair the roughly 100-year old theater.”

On April 30, 1999 Daily Courier reporter Sandy Moss wrote an article “Elks Theater feels its age” that detailed the failing systems, including the boiler and lighting at the Elks.

Prescott College back out

The Daily Courier ran an editorial on December 21, 1999 “Community needs to rally to Elks Theater” Which noted:

“Prescott College, which has managed the historic Elks Theater for the past seven years, has turned backed that responsibility to the owner, the Arizona Community Foundation. The foundation is offering the theater for lease or for sale.”     

As this installment draws to a close, the Elks teetered on the edge of total collapse; however, that changes in our next installment.

This is the fourth in a series about the Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House in Prescott Arizona. In the next installment, we will cover the period of “Resurrection and Preservation” in the period 2000-2008.

If you have fond memories of the Elks, we encourage you to share those via a comment. Also, please let your friends know about this series of articles about a true gem in Prescott Arizona.

About the authors     
Parker Anderson is the official Historian of the Elks Opera House. He spent thousands of hours compiling all known bookings in the first 100 years of the Opera House.     

Jack Wilson is the former Mayor of Prescott Arizona. He has had a long interest in history having founded two neighborhood historic societies in Chicago. He was instrumental in providing the funds that allowed “Bill the Elk” to return from Prescott Valley to his rightful perch atop the Elks Opera House.

Find out what all the buzz is about and experience Prescott AZ. Take a look at this 3-minute video overview: Experience Prescott 2010

If you liked that video, find out about the City of Prescott 4th of July Celebration

  

"Bill the Elk"

"Bill the Elk" atop the Elks Opera House

 

I am happy to announce that I will be collaborating with Parker Anderson, official Historian of the Elks Opera House, on a new series on its history. We envision that this series will encompass 5 to 8 blog posts.   

At one time there were many Elks Opera Houses in America. But today only three survive in the entire country. Two of these are being used as movie theatres. We have a real gem in our soon to be restored Elks Opera House. Parker Anderson spent thousands of hours documenting all the bookings in the Elk’s Opera House in its first one-hundred years. I provided the funding to return the original “Bill the Elk” from Prescott Valley to atop the building. I also served as President of the Thumb Butte Questers when all the Prescott Questers chapters raised matching funds for the grant that allowed the inner (or second) lobby to be restored.   

I hope that our collaboration on the Elks brings back many fond memories. Stay tuned for the first installment.

Mike Vax

 

As a warm-up for the Prescott Jazz Summit in August, there will be a FREE jazz concert at Noon this Friday, April 9. Mayor Marlin Kuykendall will present a proclamation recognizing April as National Jazz Appreciation month at Courthouse Plaza – north side – at noon on Friday, April 9th.  Following the presentation the “All Star Jazz Quintet” will be performing.  Please come and bring your friends (and even people who aren’t your friends) so we can have a good turnout.   

Mike Vax’s “All Star Jazz Quintet” will also be playing at 129 1/2 on Friday evening from 6:30 to 9:30.  Please come and support your Jazz Summit musicians and also Barry Barbe.  He is one of he few on going jazz presenters in the Prescott area.  Have dinner or dessert of a couple of drinks, whatever.   

The Prescott Jazz Summit will celebrate its tenth year in 2010. We would like to grow it into a great gathering of jazz musicians like the festivals in Montreal and New Orleans but we need community support to do that. This entire festival is run by a group of dedicated volunteers. Come to the free concert this Friday at Noon and meet some of these volunteers and learn about the Prescott Jazz Summit. 

Link to short Video on 2008 Prescott Jazz Summit

It struck me as a lover of quotations to begin this post with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln:

A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started. He is going to sit where you are sitting, and when you are gone, attend to those things which you think are the most important. You can create all the policies you please, but how they are carried out depends upon him. He will assume control of your cities,states, and nations.

The quote relates to an Eagle Scout project to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Scouting. They are raising funds to purchase and donate the life-size bronze sculpture titled, “Footsteps to the Future”, by Deborah Copenhaver-Fellows to the City of Prescott.

Folks, these are tough times for many of us. But I believe tough times brings out the best in us. I am a board member of the Prescott Area Arts Trust and we are acting as a fiduciary for the fund-raising for the great project. Please visit their web site for details. And please pass this information on to your email list — this is our chance to pay it forward. Click the link below to go to their website:

Footsteps to the Future website 

                                                                                                                                     

  

ShowUp.com for Prescott

ShowUp.com for Prescott

 

The Prescott Area Arts & Humanities Council invites you to the launch of ShowUp.com in the Prescott Area! 

Smoki Museum
Smoki Museum

  

Where:           Smoki Museum (Smoki Pueblo) 147 North Arizona Avenue, Prescott 

When:             Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 10:30AM 

Why:               Learn a great way to publicize arts and cultural events!  

Please RSVP to PrescottArtsCouncil@gmail.com 

ShowUp.com in the Prescott Area has been made possible thanks to the generous support of: 

Prescott Area Arts & Humanities Council
J. W. Kieckhefer Foundation
Margaret T. Morris Foundation
Elks Opera House
Ponderosa Hotel Management
Tim’s Toyota Center
APS 

Showup.com

 

The Arts and Culture organizations of Prescott are poised to take a great leap forward with the arrival of ShowUp.com for Prescott! Stay tuned for the launch date, to be announced shortly. What is ShowUp.com? It is a product of the Alliance for Audience. It provides a web site with a directory of all arts and cultural events and the ability to buy tickets online for events. ShowUp.com started in Phoenix, then spread to Tucson and Flagstaff. Now it is coming to Prescott. For more information on membership in the Alliance for Audience, see http://www.allianceforaudience.org/membership.html    

Here is an image of the Flagstaff Showup.com website:    

Flagstaff's Showup.com website

Page from Flagstaff's Showup.com

Prescott Tourism Tweets

  • We're soon retiring this Twitter account--follow @visit_prescott for travel, tourism & event-related info for Prescott, Arizona 5 years ago
  • Our Twitter account is closing soon...please follow @visit_prescott for Prescott, Arizona related travel & tourism info! 5 years ago
  • City of Prescott 4th of July Extravaganza next Wed @ Pioneer Park: games, rides, music, fireworks & more! dld.bz/b63nk 5 years ago
  • Another edition of the Folk Sessions at the Highlands Center in Prescott this Sat: "Women in Song II", 7pm dld.bz/b63mU 5 years ago
  • Cowboy poets Chris Isaacs and Gail Steiger perform at Ben's Fine Art Gallery in Prescott, this Fri & Sat dld.bz/b63mu 5 years ago

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