It has sat quietly for a few years, but there’s been activity behind the scenes.
The Dell Rapids Opera House downtown has gone through a rebirth, and its bright lights are scheduled to shine again for a live dinner theater staging of Steel Magnolias on Nov. 16.
The 350-seat Opera House is on the second floor of the Grand Opera House Building, directly above Papa’s Pub & Eatery on Dells’ main street downtown. Following the renovation of the building by Joan Rasmussen, the building that was originally built in 1888 is back to its original splendor.
With the opening of Papa’s, and with the restaurant finding a footing in the community, Rasmussen is launching a true dinner theater when “Steel Magnolias” comes to town.
“Our intent was always just to have shows, coffee, dessert and cocktails,” Rasmussen said. “But when people came in, they asked where was the dinner.”
That’s when the real renovations began as Rasmussen expanded the project and purchased the Huddle Building to the east. That expansion allowed for a commercial kitchen, and for a few years, Rasmussen held dinner theaters, dinners and corporate events.
Rasmussen says the intent for the renovation all along was to have a restaurant on the first floor, which Mexican restaurant El Tapatio held for a couple of years before Papa’s moved into the space late last year.
Rasmussen says there are still $25 tickets available for the Steel Magnolias show in November, but the dinner portion of the event is almost full, which is all inclusive at $45 per ticket. The timing, Rasmussen says, is perfect. On top of the renovations to the Opera House, Rasmussen Properties just completed renovations to the Odd Fellows properties on Dells’ north side.
“With the Odd Fellows renovation winding down and Papa’s getting acclimated and fine-tuning their menu, we thought this was a perfect time to have another show,” Rasmussen said. “Papa’s is very interested in doing the dinner theater, and we’re very excited about that.”
The theater group putting on Steel Magnolias is not a local Dell Rapids group, but instead Rasmussen has brought in Sioux Empire Community Theatre, which is based in Sioux Falls.
“When they said they were taking their show on the road, we said ‘please, please, please come to Dell Rapids,’” Rasmussen said. “A show of that caliber is something we’d love to have, and we can’t wait.”
With the Opera House sitting empty for the last few years, Rasmussen said she’s more than proud of what they’re about to unveil in November. She said the building renovation, and the Odd Fellow renovation, has taken time.
“I always feel bad when people ask why we aren’t using the building,” Rasmusson said of the Opera House. “But we’ve been busy, really diligently trying to restore and preserve these beautiful buildings to the absolute best of our ability.”
She said when Steel Magnolias opens next month, people will love what they see. She said she has a passion for historic renovation and loves the ability to be able to see an old building, and then in her mind envision what it could be.
“But your vision is only as good as the talented hands, the contractors, and the subcontractors,” she said. “They just do high-end work. It’s a testament to the men’s and women’s hands who have touched the building.”
For tickets to the Steel Magnolia show and dinner theater, call 605-321-9789.
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