‘Eilley’ premieres at Piper’s Opera House
The mood was light as the Gold Hill Theater Troupe gathered for a rehearsal of “Eilley,” a new two-act musical in the multipurpose room of Virginia City High School.
Leslie Stevens, who portrays Eilley Orrum, danced with her counterpart Paul Urban, who plays Eilley’s husband, Sandy Bowers. The piano played while an actor belted out a tune in a rich baritone.
The Comstock Lode, a silver discovery that rocked the world in the mid- to late-19th century, provides the backdrop for the musical, which premiers Friday at Piper’s Opera House.
Bowers and Orrum made and lost a fortune mining silver in the Comstock. The couple built Bowers Mansion.
“It’s a Broadway-quality musical written by locals,” said producer Jo Kilmer.
Playwright and director Michael Schon wrote the play about 40 years ago. Evangeline Hunter-Miller provided the lyrics, and Bonnie Goff Randall wrote the music.
“I’ve always wanted to produce this play at Piper’s,” Schon said. “This is wonderful, a dream come true.
“The real thrust for writing the play was the history,” he said. “What I learned about the times while researching for the play, I found incredible.”
In 1859, Orrum was operating a boarding house on the Comstock. Bowers was one of her boarders, and the two owned adjoining silver claims.
Records note that Bowers moved to Utah Territory in 1856. He married Orrum in August 1859, and they made and lost a fortune.
Bowers died in 1868 at age 35, but Schon ends his play on an upbeat note with Bowers working to save his company and the family fortunes.
The Gold Hill Theater Troupe is providing 22 actors for the musical, which should run for about 2 1/2 hours with intermissions.
The play runs through Sept. 14.
IF YOU GO
What: Gold Hill Theatre Troupe performances of “Eilley”
Where: Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City
When: Friday-Sept. 14; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $20 per person for the front section, $15 general admission and $12 for seniors, students, and children under 12.
Information: Gold Hill Hotel at 847-0111 or Piper’s Opera House, 847-0433.