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.
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.
A native of Memphis, TN, Stuart moved to Ouray at the beginning of 2019 to work on the recently completed rehabilitation of the historic Columbus Building (now the Imogene Hotel) on 8th and Main. He has long held a fascination with the American West and naturally fell in love with the Wright Opera House shortly after moving to town. Stuart jumped at the opportunity to join the ongoing restoration efforts at Wright and is excited about showcasing the building to Ouray’s residents and visitors alike. In his free time, Stuart can be found climbing and skiing with his dog Copper.
Chuck is a Colorado native raised in Windsor, CO and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in 1975 with a BS degree in accounting. He began his professional career with a local CPA firm in Greeley and was admitted as a partner in 1981. He and his wife Mary, also a CPA, opened their own CPA and financial services firm in 1999. He has been involved in numerous community organizations as a board member and officer including UNC Foundation, Greeley/Weld Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, and Greeley/Weld Senior Foundation.
Chuck and Mary moved from Greeley to the Pleasant Valley area west of Ridgway in October 2009 as the first step in their retirement plan. Thanks to the advancement of the remote office concept, they continued to serve their clients which also included making “house calls” on various trips back to the front range. They sold their practice in September 2017 finally providing the time to travel and get involved with great organizations like the Wright.
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 bard where he will be a member of the building committee, continuing to work as a design consultant and master planner.
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.
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.
Terry Kiser is, of course, best known as the 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.
April Orgren, Board Member
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!”
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.