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Patrons at the Old Opera House are seen before a show, socially distanced.

CHARLES TOWN—A major fundraising event and performances continue at the Old Opera House Theatre Company and Arts Centre (OOH) despite the pandemic.

On Oct. 24, the Annual Autumn Auction, the theatre’s largest fundraising event for more than 20 years, will take place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The auction will be a combination of live and silent auctions, held both at the Old Opera House and virtually.Tickets are available now online.

“About 75 people can come to the Old Opera House,” said Steve Brewer, the organization’s manager/artistic director. “This has been a learning experience for us. We have been confining what we have to offer, following the restrictions caused by the virus. Last year, the event was held at the Clarion in Shepherdstown and we had about 200 people.”

Those who come in person can be part of a limited gathering with wine being served and opportunities to meet the OOH staff. Tickets are $50.  Tickets to receive the log-in information and participate in the live auction from home are $10. Bidding will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Bidding from home can be done with a chat function that is part of the log-in information.

“The silent auction is a traditional raffle style auction. Participants from home can buy chances on items that they like. They can see some of the items on Facebook,” Brewer said.

Those items include jewelry, baskets of wine and bourbon and even gravel.

And, the show must go on. Just this week, OOH had its last presentation of the two-person comedy, “Marriage is Murder.” The play, which opened Oct. 9, is the first performance since February when COVID-19 hit.

“We normally can seat 327 people. With social distancing, we can now have from 80 to 85 in the audience. Rows are roped off and masks are required for the audience. There have been about 40 people per performance, which is considerably smaller than before, but people attending have been eager and had a great time,” Brewer said.

Concern for the safety of the performers has made Brewer schedule plays with smaller casts. The next show will be the comedy, “Christmas Belles,” to open Dec. 3 with a cast of nine.

 There’s no question that the OOH has had challenging times because of the pandemic.

“We’ve been keeping our head above water thanks to generous patrons and help from government programs,” Brewer said.

For more information on the auction and future performances, call the box office at 304-725-4420 or go online at www.oldoperahouse.org.

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