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sometimes the hero is a (gasp) girl

For decades, every May, Waverly Presbyterian Church has presented the Waverly Opera House, a zany musical melodrama featuring villains (boo!), heroes (yay!), and love stories (awww!) with the usual “forty-piece orchestra” (wink, wink), free salty popcorn and (not free) drinks.

After a several-year hiatus due to COVID, the Opera House is back in 2024.

It’s all in good fun to raise money for summer camp scholarships.

Waverly’s tradition of the Opera House dates back to the 1920s, where adults and youth would perform less formal (but no less fun) reviews and variety shows for the congregation and neighborhood. By the 1950s, these shows had developed into fully plotted melodramas (from the Greek Melodrama – a story with integrated music and/or songs).

During the late 1960s, Pittsburgh’s eastern regions suffered population decreases and shifts that threw Waverly and her sister churches into a membership crisis. The melodramas were discontinued until 1974 when member Carol Thompson revived them in the form in which they have been produced up to today. Youth-only performances are held every other production.

With weekly rehearsals stretching from January to May, the Waverly Opera House (WOH) is an all-church event. Everyone is invited to participate in the production which contributes to the life of the church in the following ways:

  • WOH encourages participants in the giving of time and talents.
  • WOH funds help support our youth in attending Crestfield Camp and Conference Center camps and Trinity Youth Conference.
  • WOH offers friends and neighbors a taste of Waverly’s fellowship and humor.
  • WOH provides an opportunity to be supportive of one another and to stretch each person in ways we might not have thought possible.

Members of the community volunteer to direct the play, build the set, run the lights, provide rehearsal meals, play in the house band, videotape the productions, write original lyrics, care for cast members’ children, apply make-up, sew costumes, provide and make fun props, design posters and the program, supply rehearsal rides and meals, sell tickets, provide voice and acting lessons, and even write original melodramas!

Children at Waverly grow up watching the productions and eagerly await their turn to begin participation in WOH when they join Youth Group in sixth grade. Many people continue on in the adult Opera House productions and enjoy keeping the tradition alive!

stained glass line