It’s been a while since Parrish Johnston walked from the old high school with his classmates to see “All Quiet on the Western Front” on the Mineral Point Opera House’s big screen. Now when Parrish goes to the newly-restored, 99-year-old theater, he is behind the scenes instead of in the audience.
Last month Parrish was named the new director of the Opera House. He follows Phil Mrozinski, who stepped down after a decade and a half at the helm. Phil spearheaded the fundraising and restoration of the theater, which celebrated its grand reopening in 2010.
Parrish moved with his family – mom Diana and dad Tom of Johnston Gallery and Brewery Pottery; and sister Claire, new Mineral Point Chamber of Commerce president – to Mineral Point from neighboring Edmund when he was 15.
Parrish has fond childhood memories of weekend movies with the family and school field trips to the Opera House.
“When I was in high school there were two yearly trips down to the Opera House in the spring for the student body. The yearly musical was put on and the entire school would walk down to experience the production. I also have really fond memories of making the hilly trek from the old high school over to the Opera House a hot May day to watch ‘All Quiet on the Western Front,’ which was amazing to take in on the big screen.”
As director of the Opera House, Parrish is looking forward to being an active part of the community and helping to bring more events to town.
“I think that we can bring in a variety of musical acts and I’m hoping to get more movies shown. I see the type of acts that the Opera House in Stoughton is able to bring in, and I believe we can bring in some great music. I hope the community responds and supports these efforts. The community did a wonderful job of supporting the Opera House during the fundraising and restoration efforts, and I would like to make the building a more central part of the community.”
“There are a lot of touring bands that play shows in Chicago and Minneapolis a few days apart and need somewhere to play in the interim. I’m hoping to be able to pull some of these acts into Mineral Point. Having a gorgeous, fully-restored Opera House should be a great draw and my hope is to be able to get some large nationally-known bands to play a show in the future. My pie in the sky hope would be to convince Wilco to come up from Chicago and play.”
Last weekend many tourists attending Shake Rag Alley’s Woodlanders Gathering enjoyed the Point Five concert at the Opera House. Parrish is hoping to draw in out-of-towners during the Fall Art Tour as well, when Grand Marquis plays Oct. 18. The Kansas City band plays blues and prohibition-era jazz. According to their website, they are “Blues and Trouble.”
This weekend at the Opera House: Alley Stage’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. The musical about a man-eating plant is directed by UW-Madison student Shannon Heibler, with music direction by Tim Ekenberg. Local actors include Mike Mitchell, Alexis Knouse, and Jessie Hodgson. Hayley Mason, Logan Eigenberger, Darby Fitzsimons, Braden Zywicki, Hannah Coyne, and Logan Walsh round out this talented and energetic cast. Shows are July 18-19 and July 25-26 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students, and can be purchased at Brown Paper Tickets or at the door.
– Contributed by Susan Webb