Stuart’s Opera House has been a cultural icon in southeastern Ohio for over 100 years. The theater offers a free concert series during the summer, the Ohio State Fiddling Contest each August and performances both large and small for a fee throughout the year. The Stuart’s Opera House also provides arts and cultural experiences for area children through school sponsored field trips during the academic year.
The opera house first opened its’ doors in 1879 showcasing traveling vaudeville acts, mistral shows and dramatic theater productions. Stuart’s Opera House was the crown gem of culture in southern Ohio, attracting famous performers of the day to the Hocking Valley. Renowned magician, Howard Thurston graced the stage on several occasions. George M. Cohan, best know for composing the popular patriotic tune, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” showcased his talents in Appalachian Ohio during the early 1900’s. After 50 years of bringing the outside world to the secluded, yet majestic hamlet of the Hocking Hills, the opera house closed in 1924. Through the efforts of regional volunteers, the Stuart’s Opera House Guild was formed in 1976, and began major restoration efforts on the building. After salvaging and restoring the beautiful woodwork and theater seats, the doors once again opened to an adoring public.
Stuart’s Gallery 1879 houses artistic displays and A Jar Design Press operated by printmaker Bobby Rosenstock. This locale is a favorite stop on the “Final Fridays” art in downtown Nelsonville monthly event. Stuart’s Wine Express are events hosted jointly by the opera house and the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway. A ticket to ride includes fine wine and gourmet cheese tastings. Ride in comfort through the majestic beauty of the Hocking Hills region.
The Hocking College Persussion Ensemble routinely hosts events at Stuart’s Opera House, including performances by Hocking College and Ohio University musicians. Get ready for a rockin’ good time with a little smooth jazz thrown in for good measure. The opera house, words in tandem with ARTS West offers both youthful and adult actors a chance to shine are productions held off-site in Athens. Tickets for ARTS West and Factory Street Dance Studio plays and concerts can be purchased directly from the Stuart’s Opera House box office or online through the facilities website.
The annual Nelsonville Music Festival is the largest undertaking of Stuart’s Opera House. This three day event of music and entertainment is held during the middle of May each year on the Hocking College campus. Past headliners have included Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Sharon Jones , Michael Hurley and Todd Snider. Over the course of the annual multiple day concert, 30 separate acts take to the stage to the delight of both locals and visitors from afar. In addition to the guitars, harmonicas and rapidly beating drums, the annual music festival also includes an art show and camping areas.
Stuart’s Opera House also hosts a film in the Athens International Film and Video Festival held each summer. The festival began in 1974 and has grown every yer since. The College of Fine Arts at Ohio University organizes the event to showcase the work of both amateur and novice professional film makers. Public viewings of the entries in all four categories are shown over the course of several days. Film festival categories include experimental, animation, documentary and narrative.