by Trevor Odom, Assistant Marketing and Program Manager, Elks Performing Arts Center
Anyone that has visited the Elks Theatre has likely interacted with our Docents. The Docents operate as part of the Elks Opera House Guild, a nonprofit group created to “Preserve, Promote and Support” the Elks Opera House. Founded in 2008, the members of the Guild are an integral part to the Theatre. I had the opportunity to speak with Linda Walls and Rachelle Richards, two longtime members of the Elks Opera House Guild. The goal was to further explore the integral role the Guild plays for the Theatre.
Q: What is the history of the Elks Opera House Guild?
Linda: The Elks Opera House Guild originally started as a branch of the Elks Opera House Foundation. At the request of the late Elizabeth Ruffner, the Guild branched off to its own entity with the purpose of ensuring the history and character of the Theatre was preserved for future generations. Over the years, the Guild experienced many management changes and survived when the Theatre was transferred from the city to the nonprofit. It has thrived ever since.
Q: What is the daily job of an Elks Theatre Docent?
Rachelle: Most of the job involves interacting with the public while dressed in historical costumes reflecting the frontier days of Arizona. During shows and events, the Docents act as greeters and ushers and answer any questions relating to the history of the Theatre. During the week, Docents give tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.
Q: Outside of tours and Theatre events, what other activities is the Elks Opera House Guild involved with?
Rachelle: One of the main things we do is our annual Victorian Tea and Fashion Show. In previous years we had great success with this event and recently decided to extend to two shows, with the second occurring on Saturday, October 5th. The “Tea” is a benefit to help support The Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center’s community outreach programs. Additional information is available at elksoperahouseguild.com.
Q: Is it true that movies have returned to the Elks Theatre?
Linda: Yes! When I first joined the guild in 2008, the city was playing movies every Sunday. This stopped during the renovation. I am very happy to say the Theatre has revived weekly movies. Now movies are shown almost every Wednesday at 7 p.m.
I would like to thank Linda and Rachelle for taking the time to speak with me about their wonderful organization. If you would like to find out more about the Elks Opera House Guild, please visit their website at elksoperahouseguild.com. If you would like more information on shows in the Theatre, you may visit the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center website prescottelkstheater.com. The Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center is extremely lucky to have a team of dedicated and passionate people to represent it. Don’t forget to come to a show, visit with our Docents and experience a living piece of Prescott history!