The Rochester Opera House is a historic theater located in the Rochester city hall. It has been a center of community and community entertainment for more than a century. Now it is leased and operated as a non-profit, bringing a variety of shows and performance opportunities to the community. Shay Willard started acting there as a sixth grader; he is now a graduate student in film production and is directing a play at the opera house.
Shay: I was not into sports, so my mother said “Well why don’t you try theater?” I started acting in elementary school. The first time I was ever involved at the Rochester Opera House was in sixth grade. There was a production of a show very much tailored to children called the “Teddy Bear Picnic Jamboree”; it was very hot - we all had gigantic bear suits on.
The opera house offers performance space, and that’s good not only for performers but also for community. Art is the soul of community, and whether that is painting, music, or performance art, it’s always good to have that outlet. Not just for the people that are on the stage, or performing the music, but also for the people that come to watch and come to listen. Because whether you create the art or you are observing the art, you are still engaged by it and you are growing as a person. That is a wonderful thing that every community should have in one form or another.
We are particularly lucky that we have such a beautiful space to use to create this art. We have this amazing vaudeville era building that is here for our use and owned by the city of Rochester. They give us this big theater which is really, really nice, and good to have - for everyone.