Dubuque's Grand Opera House A Piece of History in the Present
DUBUQUE, Iowa - As we've told you the arts and history are two key components that make up the character of Our Town, and Dubuque's Historic Grand Opera House is just one example of the community's past that's continued into Our Town's present.
The theater went up in 1889 at a price of 100-thousand dollars.
It opened one year later and drew in many, many famous performers between 1890 and 1928... including Al Jolson, Jack Benny, and Will Rodgers. A young Henry Fonda even played *Hamlet* here in 1923.
But a big change came seven years later when the theater was stripped and turned into a movie house. It remained that way until the 1980s until a four-and-a half million dollar restoration. It's now primarily a community theater that seats 600 people.
"We are really blessed with the facility there are things we would like to do yet, like re-dig the pit because that was closed off in 1928, and we need more lighting and instruments, and we could use more money but we have is a real gem we believe and people love it," Grand Opera House Executive Director Paul Hemmer said.
Behind the scenes, stage crews were building the set for the musical, "Nine-to-Five." That opened June 1st. Later this summer the theater will put on "Les Miserables" starting the last weekend of July.