Ouray, Colorado

About the Friends of The Wright Opera House

Recognizing the potential to preserve and restore arts and culture in Ouray County by purchasing the historic Wright Opera House, a group of volunteers came together in 2007 with a vision to 'Save the Wright.' In 2008 the non-profit organization 'Friends of the Wright Opera House' was incorporated. The vision that followed was one of promoting artistic, cultural and educational opportunities for all by providing a centralized venue for performing arts organizations and by restoring the facility for another century of use.

In 2011, the Friends completed the acquisition of the Wright Opera House thanks to the generosity of the local community and the various foundations that came together and recognized the historical significance of the facility. During this time, the Friends brought new programming and events to Ouray County as an all volunteer board. At the same time, the Friends worked diligently to define a restoration plan for the Wright Opera House, working with both the Colorado State Historical Society as well as local stakeholders to ensure that the Wright reclaims its place as a premier entertainment venue.

For decades, the Wright Opera House has provided high quality entertainment and culture. With the Friends at the helm and with the continued support from the community, the Wright will exist for many decades to come as a crowning jewel for the City and County of Ouray, providing arts, entertainment and culture for all.

The Friends of the Wright Opera House is registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization in good standing. Our federal EIN is 26-2039839.

Mission Statement

The Friends of the Wright Opera House are dedicated to restoring and preserving the 1888 historic Wright Opera House, providing a venue for quality arts, education, and social events, thus contributing to the economic and cultural vitality of the Ouray area.

Board of Directors

Kate Jones, President
Kate Jones

Kate Jones left life in Los Angeles as a film executive for beautiful Ouray in 2018. She currently works for the Ouray County Plaindealer, and joined the Board of Directors for The Wright Opera House in January 2019. She studied producing at the University of Arizona with a minor in theatre arts prior to moving to Los Angeles, where she served as the Creative Executive of Bold Films, an independent production and film finance company dedicated to providing an artistic haven for filmmakers. Bold Films produced the Jake Gyllenhaal-starrer NIGHTCRAWLER directed by Dan Gilroy, as well as Damien Chazelle’s award winning WHIPLASH, starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, which garnered three Academy Awards. Prior to joining Bold in 2014, Jones helped produce the 2014 genre-bender THE VOICES, directed by Marjane Satrapi and starring Ryan Reynolds and Anna Kendrick, while at production company Mandalay Vision. Although life as a film executive is behind her, she is thrilled to help local arts flourish at the Wright Opera House.

Kit Meckel, Vice President
Kit Meckel

Kit Meckel is an integral part of the redesign and renovation of the Wright Opera House. He and Mick Graff have worked hand in hand on FWOH grant applications to the State Historic Fund. Kit grew up in Texas, but spent summers with his family in Ouray. He graduated from Bates College in 1999 and received his M of A from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2005. Kit’s company is Meckel Design Build LLC. We are glad to have him on the FWOH board where he serves as the Vice President and the Chairman of the Building Committee. 

Liz Owens, Treasurer
Liz Owens

Liz Owens and her husband, Brian, fell in love with Ouray during trips spanning over 20 years. Her husband’s family has roots in the area with his mother and siblings growing up in Ridgway. Some of the Noble family still live in Ouray County. Liz is originally from California, where she earned her degree in Accounting from CSUB and became a CPA in 1993. After marrying in 1994, Liz and Brian became parents to two boys (200 & 2002). With her husband's company, they moved multiple times including living in Doha, Qatar (4.5 yrs) and Bogota, Columbia (2 yrs). Liz’s youngest son graduated from Ouray High School in 2020. She splits her time in both Denver and Ouray. She loves music and singing and the Wright is a great place to enjoy music and theatre.

Eliza Wister, Secretary
Chuck Anderson

Eliza Wister has lived in Ouray since 1997. In fact, her daughter was born in the same house that she lives in now! “Both my kids got an excellent education in Ouray School and are happy, well balanced adults. The Wright has been a gathering place for entertainment and the arts since I moved here but I especially love it’s latest iteration with the elegant and exquisite renovations,” says Eliza. She grew up in a renovated farmhouse in Vermont, and her house in Ouray was built in 1885, so keeping history alive is a passion of hers, albeit with a few modern changes. She also volunteers at the school and with the adaptive program in Telluride and is thrilled to volunteer for the Wright with this exceptional group of people. She says “come and enjoy the programming!”

Terry Kiser, Board Member
Terry Kiser

Terry Kiser is, of course, best known as Bernie Lomax, the boss who just won’t stay dead in the hilarious Weekend at Bernie's films. Kiser recently played memorable and heart-wrenching roles in two feature films directed by JW Myers, The Pledge and A Christmas Tree Miracle. Terry currently serves on our Advisory Board as a Talent Consultant and Ambassador. Terry will eventually be joining the Season One cast of Transition in a pivotal role.

Terry was born in Omaha, Nebraska. He studied acting in New York at the famous Actors Studio, where he was mentored by legendary method acting teacher Lee Strasberg. He got his start on the daytime soap opera The Doctors. He made his film debut as a preacher in Paul Newman’s Rachel, Rachel. He gave an especially strong and engaging performance in a rare substantial starring role in the little seen drama Lapin 360. Other memorable roles include Chuck Norris' ill-fated cop partner Dave Pierce in An Eye for an Eye, Starflight: The Plane That Couldn’t Land, From A Whisper to a Scream, Friday the 13th Part VII, and Mannequin 2: On the Move.

Terry has hundreds of television credits. Just a few of his more noteworthy ones include a series regular on Carol Burnett’s Carol & Company, Will & Grace, Walker, Texas Ranger, Baywatch Nights, Dream On, The Golden Girls, L.A. Law, Hunter, Murder, She Wrote, Riptide, Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, Magnum P.I., Hill Street Blues, CHiPs, Diff’rent Strokes, All in the Family, Maude, Hawaii Five-O, The Bionic Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Baretta. Terry has also performed on Broadway in Neil Simon’s God's Favorite (for which he received a Tony nomination),Shelter, The Castro Complex, and Paris Is Out!. Terry won both an Obie and a Theater World Award for Fortune and Men's Eyes.

Terry recently enjoyed a resurgence of his Bernie Lomax fame for a new generation when fans attempted to replicate “The Bernie Dance” on YouTube, and the videos went viral, with well over seventeen million views, collectively. The Oakland A’s used this as their 7th inning stretch motivation during a recent playoff stretch run, and Terry was invited to throw out the first pitch (as the late Bernie Lomax) at a game.

Marc Hitchcox, Board Member
Marc Hitchcox

Marc is a 25+ year resident and has served in a variety of volunteer capacities including ambulance driver, soccer coach, councilmember, Elks member, and now the Wright Opera House board. Most recently he has been enjoying participating in the radio shows COVID has spawned. He has been an active realtor for the past 17 years and loves to Jeep and travel. Give him a call and chat about volunteering.

Lou Hart, Board Member
Lou Hart

After 30+ years, Lou and her husband John Hart are back as full-time, permanent residents in the little mountain town they never stopped calling home. Her family, the Tankersleys, moved to Ouray in 1960, bought a property, and began building the Twin Peaks Motel. Like most all businesses in Ouray at that time, it was a family affair. Her father and brothers built, while she and her sister and mother cleaned, made beds, took reservations, and together built a business on growing tourism that became a destination place notable for its owners’ love of this beautiful place and their southern hospitality. “At the time, I had no idea how blessed I was to be growing up in a beautiful mountain town that was safe, community-minded, and would never leave my heart,” she says. Lou married her high school sweetheart, John Hart, joined him in Hawaii as he served in the US Navy, and returned to Ouray to make our home here. John was employed by San Miguel Power, while she was at home raising two sons. Together they opened Ridgway True Value Hardware on Clinton in 1983. Southwest Colorado was not thriving at the time and they struggled to make ends meet, running the store and working extra jobs. Eventually they moved to the Phoenix area to try and secure their financial future. Their two sons grew up in Phoenix and attended NAU for their degrees. Lou too was able to go back for her degree in education and a Masters in Counseling, and enjoyed a 20 year career in public education and counseling in the Community College system.

In 2005 the Harts built their home on Oak Street, thinking at the time that it would be a summer place and a great escape from the heat of the desert. Once John retired for the second time, he was anxious to spend more time here in our Ouray home. Lou was still enjoying her college students but in 2019, they made the decision to sell their Arizona home and move back full time. Lou says, “we are so happy to be back. It’s different in some ways, more opportunities for adventure and culture and business. But there is some part of this place that is still just as captivating for us as it ever was. Maybe it’s Mt Abram that looms faithful out of my front window, maybe it’s the waterfalls or the Uncompahgre I can hear flowing endlessly from our windows, and maybe it's the spirit of timelessness that speaks from the mountains, and certainly it is the connection with people who call this place home because they too have been captivated. Probably it is all of these things. So we’re back; we’re home.”

Lou’s interest as a member of The Wright Board has everything to do with her appreciation for what Ouray has become and how The Wright has been “reborn” to bring a variety of arts and culture to our community. She views it as a place of community where both locals and visitors can come together for conversation, entertainment, arts and a sharing of the best parts of us that reflects both creation and creativity. “It is my honor to do so as a Board Member of The Wright Opera House,” says Lou.

Sandra Wilson, Board Member
Sandra Wilson

Sandra Wilson is a resident of Kaufman County which lies east of the Dallas metroplex. She and her husband have been residents there for over 32 years. In October of 2011 they experienced Ouray for the first time. Upon seeing Ouray, they purchased a home and are now enjoying the beauty of Ouray County as time allows.
Through her love of theater Sandra discovered the Wright Opera House during the first year visiting Ouray and attending performances and has been a regular event-goer ever since. Involvement with The Wright Opera House’s performances and meeting a wonderful group of people has allowed her the
opportunity to be a hands-on participant with the Wright Opera House Board of Directors.
Sandra offers years of experience in the field of Development with non-profit organizations. Serving over 13 years in nonprofits she has become proficient in events that would bring donations and offerings helping to facilitate the growth of organizations. She has served on the board of the Kaufman County Children Shelter as president on multiple years, secretary and as fund-raising chairman. She also served in many fund-raising events where all proceeds eventually procured a local library. While remaining on the board Sandra served as secretary with the local city/school library for many years.

Sandra and her husband are owners of a successful Architectural Metals Business which is in their hometown. They have also been in land development for over 40 years building custom homes along with developing and managing commercial properties.

Isabella Geyer, Board Member
Isabella Geyer

Isabella grew up in South Africa in the beautiful historic town of Kimberley, the diamond capital of the world and origin of the Hope Diamond, gifted to Evelyn Walsh McLean of Camp Bird. She remains married to her childhood sweetheart and together they raised four children and has two grandchildren.

Isabella moved to Ouray in search of a better quality of life and a more inclusive and welcoming community for their son, Philip, who has Down syndrome. She found much more than that – stunning mountain vistas, culture, history, architecture, and the Wright Opera House! In her travels abroad, she frequented historic performing art venues such as the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, the Mariinsky Theater in St Petersburg, and London’s West End.

Isabella has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology and started her career by choosing to only serve marginalized communities such as people on probation and parole as well as Medicare patients. She believes she has the best job in the world and today she has thriving psychology practices in Denver and Ouray.

Susan Yoder, Board Member

Susan Yoder is a 20 year resident of Ouray. Her only son graduated from Ouray High School in 2004. She is responsible for restoring the home on 4th Street in Ouray next to the courthouse, know as the “Zanett House”, originally built in the 1890’s. Growing up, Susan’s family moved frequently all over the country from small, rural towns to cities including Chicago and Los Angeles. This gave Susan the exposure to and love of different cultures, art, music and history across the country. And, especially a passion for saving old buildings. “I went to events at the Wright since I first moved to town and always imagined her original beauty. I was so happy to hear about the acquisition by the Friends of the Wright to save this amazing historic building and am so thrilled to see it become the premier venue for the arts, social events and education in the county.” Susan has been an avid event-goer and has done some volunteer work for the Wright. She feels lucky for any opportunity to support the mission of the Opera House to continue to contribute to the economic and cultural viability of our Community.

Executive Director

Alyssa Preston
Alyssa Preston

Alyssa Preston moved to Ouray, Colorado with her family in 2005 from her native state of Texas. At the time she was a stay-at-home mom to her three sons who were then 8, 7 & 3 years old. As the years passed, Alyssa volunteered at The Wright Opera House as a director for summer theatre camps and summer melodramas. In 2007 Alyssa began volunteering at Ouray High School as the assistant director for the after school drama club’s high school plays. In 2011 the opportunity arose for Alyssa to become the director. The first year of directing a play on her own opened Alyssa’s eyes to the need of a Theatre Department in the school. Rising to the challenge, Alyssa enrolled in college and graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor’s of Arts and Humanities. She then went on to obtain a teaching license and was hired at Ouray Schools with the intent of building a performing arts program. While doing all of this, Alyssa continued to direct plays at the Wright for the local theatre troupe, Ouray County Players (OCP), which is the house theatre troupe for the Wright Opera House. This meant that Alyssa spent many volunteer hours at the Wright as well. In May 2017 the Wright hired Alyssa as the Event Manager. She worked this part-time job while also teaching until May 2019. In June of that year, Alyssa was given the opportunity to work full-time at The Wright as the Executive Director. She resigned from teaching school and began to manage operations at The Wright while growing its performing arts program. Alyssa has overseen the opening of the Tavern at the Wright and the hiring of the new Tavern Manager. She has also helped contribute to Ouray County’s workforce in hiring a part time employee and adding two contract employee positions. The performing arts industry was hit hard in 2020 with the closure of theatres, movie houses and entertainment venues world-wide. The Wright Opera House has also felt these effects and has pivoted programming in order to strive to keep its community connected. Alyssa and The Wright Board of Directors are continually thinking of ways to be on the cutting edge of entertainment in these ever-changing times.

See you at the Wright

If you have general questions, please contact the Wright Opera House box office at 970.325.4399 or via email.

We're working hard to make the Wright Opera House an open and welcoming venue to organizations throughout Colorado. We're also trying to restore a facility that is over 126 years old. Needless to say, we have our work cut out for us! If you have some praise for what we've done already or some feedback on what we could do better, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Member of the Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce and the Ouray Chamber Resort Association
472 Main Street (Mailing address: PO Box 17), Ouray, CO 81427 | 970.325.4399 phone
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