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Opera house marks 20th anniversary

Marvin and Deana (Bennett) Clark owners and operators of the Twin City Opera House in McConnelsville. The 20th anniversary show of the first performance of the Ohio Valley Opry will be held 6 p.m. Saturday. (Photo Provided)

Staff reports

McCONNELSVILLE — September marks the 20th anniversary of the first performance of the Ohio Valley Opry at the Twin City Opera House in McConnelsville.

Since owners and operators Marvin and Deana (Bennett) Clark met in 1988 at a country music festival in Morgan County, the two dreamed of first starting a family and a musical ministry soon after. In September of 2000, their dream debuted on the stage of the Twin City Opera House with the help of friends and family.

Featured guests included local talents such as Matt Coleman, Matt Hansell, Darrel Wykle, Karen Walker and the Clark Family. Members of the house band included Gary Sigler on drums, Mike Sigler on steel guitar, Mike Mann on bass guitar, Dave Sayger on piano and Marvin Clark as lead guitarist.

More than 50,000 people have attended show since the first performance.

Today, the house band’s lineup has been only slightly altered. Sigler continues to play the drums, but has recruited a second generation of the show’s family. His son Bryant Sigler has been the band’s bass player since 2007 and his daughter Beth (Sigler) Bigham also is a regular performer.

Deana plays piano, Marvin continues to play guitar and Rick Troyer plays the steel guitar. Swanagan Ray rounds out the band by providing rhythm guitar and banjo.

The lineup has been consistent for the past 14 years. Matt Coleman remains a staple in the show’s lineup as both a singer and master of ceremonies in addition to Mike Morrison from Marietta.

In recent years, the anniversary shows have featured special guest appearances such as Connie Smith, The Whites, Jack Greene, Restless Heart and Ricky Skaggs, among others. This year Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder were scheduled to appear, but due to audience restrictions under COVID-19, the performance was canceled.

The Ohio Valley Opry has not had an in-person audience since December 2019.

The show usually takes a break for the holidays from January to March, but since the governor’s order took affect this March, its hiatus lasted longer than originally planned. It has continued with live-streams on social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, but they are excited to allow an audience of 80 [people for its 20th anniversary show on Sept. 19. The show starts at 6 p.m., with doors opening at 5:30.

For those reluctant to attend or could not get a ticket, the show will be live-streamed on Facebook and on the Ohio Valley Opry’s YouTube page.

Audience restrictions have not only taken a financial toll on the arts, but also on the venues that host local music and theater.

To support the Twin City Opera House, the event on Saturday will function as a benefit for the theater. The OVO will hold a telethon to raise money for the Opera House, with Rick and Adam Shriver as hosts for the evening. All proceeds of the telethon will go directly to the theater. Tickets are $20 each and are available by reservation only, as tickets will not be sold online. The number to call is 740-525-9218; details of the event are listed on the show’s Facebook page.

Corporate sponsorship and donations are welcomed to help sustain operations at the Twin City Opera House.

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