Virginia's Lil' Ole Opry Kicks Off 2017 Season

"Virginia's Lil' Ole Opry" will open its 2017 season on Saturday with limited performances again this year. It's the show's 42nd year but its second season without its home venue of Donk's Theater.

The historic family-operated theater in Mathews County was destroyed during a storm last January that brought snow, ice and heavy winds to the region. The roof on the 70-year-old theater buckled and took out three walls. It had to be demolished several days later.

"Last year after Donk's Theater collapsed, our community and friends were so generous and supportive. We have been overwhelmed with their kindness and this year, we wanted to do something to give back and say thanks," said Lynda Smith Greve, a spokeswoman for the opry.

Ticket prices for the season have been lowered to $12 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. "We hope more people will be able to come and enjoy our shows," Greve said.

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>Look Back: Donk's Theater

Here are photos from the Daily Press archives of Donk's Theater in Mathews County.

The season will end with the opry's Christmas show on Dec. 2.

The owner of the Donk's building, Josie Thorpe, said last year that she had plans to rebuild the theater. She did not return phone calls this week for comment on progress.

Thorpe said in December she was aiming to begin work on the building this spring and was developing design plans. According to building official Jamie Wilks, building permits have not yet been sought for the theater, which was originally 5,000 square feet.

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Donk's was first opened by Wilton "Donk" and Mary Dunton in June 1947 as a movie theater. It was closed for five years before Greve's father, Jimmy Smith, and several relatives decided to revive it in 1975 as a country music theater, establishing Virginia's Lil' Ole opry.

>Donk's Theater, opry move ahead with plans for next year
> Frances Hubbard

"Virginia's Lil' Ole Opry" wrapped its 2016 season Saturday night with its annual Christmas show, performed for the first time outside of Donk's Theater.

The historic family-operated theater in Mathews County was destroyed during a Jan. 22-23 storm that brought snow, ice and heavy winds to the...

"Virginia's Lil' Ole Opry" wrapped its 2016 season Saturday night with its annual Christmas show, performed for the first time outside of Donk's Theater.

The historic family-operated theater in Mathews County was destroyed during a Jan. 22-23 storm that brought snow, ice and heavy winds to the...

(Frances Hubbard)

The theater was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011 and the Virginia Landmark Register in 2009. Virginia's Department of Historic Resources removed it from the state list in September. Removal from the national list is pending.

The high school is at 9889 Buckley Hall Road. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and the show starts at 8 p.m. For more information on show dates and performers for 2017, visit the theater's website at donkstheater.com or its Facebook page.

Hubbard can be reached by phone at 757-298-5834.

Source : http://www.dailypress.com/news/gloucester-county/dp-nws-mid-donks-opry-season-opens-20170425-story.html

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