Column
By Nelson Thibodeaux

 

Dateline:  Grapevine 
Wednesday, December 5, 2001

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Chisai's last appearance on stage seen here ended with an announcement and song that even surprised the new owners!
More in the next series.


Click on Photos to Enlarge


  
A full page ad announces the reopening. 

Shortly after the show, Aunt Susie pulled out.  And once again, Aunt Susie Slaughter's next play was Grapevine's favorite "hey-have-you-heard?"  The audience, some claimed, had offended Aunt Susie by walking out on Humperdinck.  Others said it was High's apology.  Others who claim to know better say Aunt Susie just figured it was time to move on to something else, that the Revue wasn't fun any more.  High says that no part of the incident affected her decision to withdraw from the show.  "She's an independent person. She does her own thing, and people who know her leave her alone and let her do it."

In Grapevine, the countdown for the Opry grew short.  With only days left before foreclosure, an attorney began visiting the Opry's creditors, paying them off in full. 

None of the Opry's creditors would release the name of the Opry's benefactor, and once again local speculation mounted.  The Opry opened for a one-night show in December, and the question for most was answered.  

Aunt Susie Slaughter watched again from her permanently-reserved private box at stage side.  "She likes to make them suffer and wait," remarked one of the audience, "but she takes care of family."

An elated Chisai announced that the Opry would run again for at least two months, and, when she was in town, Aunt Susie would attend the show.  Audiences waxed and waned, however.  Rumors spread that an investment group was negotiating the sale of the Opry.  Local papers who carried the story earned Chisai's angry denials.

During a February 4 show, however, Chisai announced that the Opry had indeed changed hands.  Opry Promotions, Inc., reportedly made up of local investors, acquired a six-month lease with option to purchase.

Nelson Thibodeaux, who represent Opry Promotions, prefers to talk of the Opry's future rather than its past, of the changes his company will make to a Grapevine building that has seen decades of changes.

Saturday night C&W will remain a staple in Opry-goers' diets, Thibodeaux says,, but new things will be added.  "Our goal is to maximize utilization of the Opry.  To make a viable, contributing business of the Opry, not only for ourselves but for Grapevine, we have to have other activities than just Saturday night shows."

Much about the Opry, including its entertainment format, says Thibodeaux, will change.

One thing, however, will not.  Aunt Susie Slaughter will be watching from her permanently-reserved private box at stage side.


  
In the re-opening of the Opry in 1984, Porter Wagoner and the author (Thibodeaux). Porter is preparing to tape a television promotion of the Grapevine Opry.  Porter brought his "all-girl" band.  Of course Porter originally gave Dolly Parton her big break as a singing duo. All performances were sold out. Click on Photo to Enlarge.  

Porter Wagoner signing autographs after his opening show for the "Grapevine Kids", a popular kids singing group formed at the Opry.  Porter appeared two more times in three years and there were even discussions with Porter of making the Grapevine Opry a showcase with Porter as the frequent Emcee. Click on Photo to Enlarge


Coming Next .The Opry is bought by Opry Promotions..Big Stars come to town, but big plans never materialize...the inside story from the author that was there to see it all. 

Copyright LNO 2001 - All Rights Reserved

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