By DAVID MAY
Just north of the downtown square is a piece of Weatherford’s past and present, with its owners hoping to make it an ongoing part of the city’s future.
The Texas Opry Theater was built in 1946 and has hosted a number of name entertainers like Ray Price, Hank Thompson, Gene Watson, Connie Smith and even the legendary southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The theater has even launched musical careers, like that of Weatherford native Josh Ward, who began on the Texas Opry Theater’s stage and today performs a Toby Keith tribute in Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater in Branson, Mo.
Located at 319 York Ave., the 475-seat theater continues to host concerts and special events. Elvis tribute artist Donny Edwards performs there and Benny Wheels recently performed his Johnny Cash tribute show to a large crowd. Local artists continue to use the theater as a platform to showcase their talents. Parker County Live is planning to put on shows there once a month. Its first was a variety show last month featuring a slate of local and regional groups and artists. This Saturday a gospel show is planned.
On April 5, a large crowd – including a group of 75 ladies from the Eastern Star society meeting in Weatherford – is expected to attend a 1950s-style rock and roll show with a group coming in from Arlington to perform specially for the occasion.
“They called me several months ago and said, ‘Do you have something on that Friday night,’ and I said not at this time but let me see what I can put together,” said theater co-owner Marilyn Carter. Carter said the Eastern Star lady told her their convention has a “1950s-type theme” so she contacted Michael Hicks, who has performed his group’s Blues Brothers-like show previously at Texas Opry Theater. “He said, ‘Sure, we’d like to do a show.’ They already have reservations for over 75 ladies and they are all staying in hotels here. They are all in the Sleep Inn & Suites and it is all because of us.”