California State Historic Landmark #851, reopened in January
of 1989 after a seven-year, $2,000,000+ restoration project.
For the first time in nearly eight decades, the venerable brick
building in the heart of California's fertile Sacramento Valley,
began to offer live entertainment on a year-round basis.
From its first season beginning in the fall of 1989, WOH has
consistently captured regional Elly and Local Chesley theater
nominations and awards. The WOH is made up of actors and technicians
from throughout the area-some commuting up to 70 miles to perform.
WOH mounts 5 Mainstage productions from September to June, a
summer melodrama, a youth theater camp in August, and the Young
Peoples Theatre program throughout the year, each production
running from 2 to 4 weekends.
programming includes the School Outreach Program. Working with
the Yolo County Superintendent of Schools office, WOH showcases
professional and YPT artists during the school year that local
schools bring their students, grades K-12, to see for a very
small fee per attendee. Selected Special Events artists and
programs are booked in by the Opera House throughout the year
and there are also numerous rental events by local organizations
for the public's entertainment.
TOURS of the Opera House are given each Tuesday, noon to
4:00 pm, by the WOH Guild along with group tours by special
HISTORY: Built in 1885, the original Opera House burned
down in the 1892 fire that destroyed much of downtown Woodland.
It was rebuilt on the same site, using some of the remaining
foundations and bricks from the walls, reopening in 1896. WOH
became the stopping place for such performers a Nance O'neil,
James A Herne and Harry Davenport. The great Polish actress
Madame Helen Modjeska, John Philip Sousa and his band, comics
Weber and Fields, George M. Cohan's troupe, "Gentleman Jim"
Corbett and John L. Sullivan (who appeared in theatrical production
followed by exhibitions of "Fistcuffs") and such up and coming
young motion picture stars as Sidney Greenstreet, Walter Huston
and Verna Felton. Over 300 touring companies had appeared on
its stage by 1913, when, due to the encroachment of motion pictures
in the valley and partly as a result of a lawsuit over an injury
the Opera House was closed and remained boarded up until 1971.
The Yolo County Historical Society purchased the building in
1971 to ensure that it did not fall to the wrecking ball and
bulldozer. Declares a state historical park in 1976, the Historical
Society gave the property to the State of California in 1980
and in 1981 the restoration began.
THE RESTORATION: During the restoration, the building
was made structurally safe and "earthquake proofed".
Central heat and Air-conditioning, a sprinkler and alarm system
and handicap access were added. An annex was built to house
the mechanical equipment necessary for the above and for administrative
office space, a gift counter, the Mid Level Lounge and rooftop
exterior deck. In 1990 with the help of Woodland Rotary Club,
the south side grassy "Rotary Court" was added to compliment
the City's Heritage Plaza. The interior of the Opera House has
been painstakingly restored to the grandeur it enjoyed at the
turn if the century. Careful attention was paid to reproduction
of the wallpaper friezes, paint colors and carpeting. The main
floor carpet was manufactured in England and shipped to the
Opera House for installation. Comfortable main floor theater
seating was built on the East Coast for installation and the
historic pew-like benches in the balcony area were repaired
or carefully replaced.
ADDITIONAL FACTS: The stage contains a modern, computerized
lighting system and is capable of handling most sound needs
through a 12 channel sound board with CD player and tape player.
Stage microphones are available although not often needed as
the original acoustics of the building are excellent. A hemp-line
system, using historically correct rope and sandbags, is used
to rig WOH's stagehouse instead of the computerized and counter-weighted
system more modern theatres often utilize. The WOH will sometimes
use the "wing and drop" scenery one associates with pre-20th
century theatrical productions.
building is owned by the State of California but management
is by a professional staff hired by the Woodland Opera House
Board of Trustees. The Board is made up of arts lovers, theatre
buffs, historians and business persons. Although the building
is owned by the State of California, it receives no financial
support from the state, the county ot the city. WOH is completely
self sufficient. The WOH brings in 50% of the total income,
other programming and rental brings in about 15%, fundraising
totals another 15% and the remainder of the budget is balanced
with donations, corporate underwriting, foundation grants, etc.
is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1971),
inventory of Historic Sites in Yolo County (1972), was on the
Historic American Building Survey (1966) and listed in the Woodland
Historical Zone (1971). Named California Registered Historical
Landmark #851 in 1973, the Opera House was made a state historical
park in 1976, even though no park rangers are on the premises.
The Circle of Friends at Woodland Opera House provides necessary
additional support for our wide range of programming beyond
the Mainstage series. Individual and Corporate donations help
keep the performing arts alive and vital in the Sacramento Valley
region. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution
along with you Season Ticket order.