News Column

West Texas Music, Theater Merge

July 1, 2013

Michelle Brownstone

The West Texas Music Association has merged with Friends of Ector Theatre to expand the organization's focus on musical education.

"It's something I've wanted to do for a while," Don Stice, who runs Ector Theatre with his wife, Toni, said. "I'm glad to finally be having shows."

"It's really exciting," Toni said. "We merged because we wanted to add musical education. We always wanted to but never got around to it until now. We were lacking in education and (Friends of Ector Theatre President) Bruce Beaird was looking for an outlet for his recording and children's musical education. It just made sense."

Beaird said he's excited to provide a musical outlet for Odessans, which will include singing, dancing and songwriting.

"We got a chance to merge so we would have a theater for kids and people of all ages," Beaird said. "We teach song writing, sound engineering and backstage management and work with them as young as four years all the way up to 85."

"We reach out to all kids," Toni said. "They learn to read and all about the music business."

The organization will also continue conducting benefits to benefit the community, Beaird said.

"One of the key functions of our organization is doing benefits," he said. "Friends of the Ector Theatre tries to give back to the community by doing things such as musical benefits."

Toni said the theater will now include an "Ector Opry" performing about four country shows a year.

The Ector Theatre originally opened in 1951 and closed in 1985. After the city funded an interior and exterior renovation, the theater reopened in 2001, Toni Stice said.

"They had to remove asbestos and they changed the seating," Toni said. "It used to seat 1,350, but to make it ADA approved, they had to take out every other row so the bottom part now seats 580."

The city still owns the theater and Don and Toni operate it.

Friends of Ector Theatre's first musical "Our Country: A Tribute to America," July 3 and July 4 is a patriotic tribute to the U.S. that will feature performances of classic patriotic songs like "God Bless American" as well as current popular songs like Keith Urban's "For You" performed by a group of seven with choreography by Toni.

--Contact Michelle Brownstone on twitter at @OAcitylife or on Facebook at OA Michelle Brownstone or call 432-333-7782.

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(c)2013 the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas)

Visit the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas) at www.oaoa.com

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