Rock the House Brings in a Full House

By: Caroline Albers Last Updated: July 13, 2014

Acoustic and electric guitar, smooth vocals, and even the rhythmic tap of a tambourine filled Memorial Opera House Sunday afternoon and evening for the first annual Rock the House fundraising event. From 1:00 to 11:00 pm, 17 different bands took the stage to showcase their talents. Music lovers flooded to the historic opera house to soak in the good vibes.

"This is the first year of the annual event called Rock the House,"  Michelle Smith, Memorial Opera House Business Director said. "We invited 17 different bands to come in and play for the day. All different kinds of music: rock, a little reggae, acoustic, and electric. It's going to be a fantastic event!"

Rock The House also featured a beer garden with brews from Figure 8 Brewing Company. Valpo Vienna's sold hot dogs, and Ben's Soft Pretzels offered their famous pretzels. There was also a full bar and an auction that included an electric guitar donated by Guitar Center.

"The Opera House, just like every other arts venue in the area, does not support itself," Smith said. "So we have to have fundraisers throughout the year to help with operating expenses and keep the doors open so everyone in the community can enjoy what we do."

Venues for the arts like Memorial Opera House play an integral role in keeping culture and art alive in Valparaiso. Young and old patrons of the arts turn to local theatres for live music, drama, and performance.

"There are so many arts programs that have been cut from the schools lately, a lot of drama and choir have just been taken out," Smith said. "We open the doors and introduce children to art so they can develop a lifelong love for it."

Many young actors are turning to local theatre for a creative outlet.

"We need this; we need live performances," volunteer Mary Paquin said. "I try to get my grandchildren involved too. My granddaughter performs here, and she is going to try out for Les Miserables in January. I love seeing real people use their talents."

Older performers also make use of Memorial Opera House as an artistic resource and beautiful venue.

"When I heard what Memorial Opera House was doing and what they want to raise money for, I wanted to help out any way I could," local musician Mac McElhaney said, who was first to take the stage at Rock the House.

"Memorial Opera House is a gorgeous venue. It's a great piece of history," McElhaney added , who is also a pastor at Rolling Hills Vineyard. "They do a ton for the community. One of the things that I really like, being in a nonprofit organization myself, they have been so willing to go out of their way to help us on so many levels. Seeing how they treat their clients and the city makes me want to support them."

There are many ways to support Memorial Opera House and help invest in keeping the artistic center. From donating, to volunteering, to even just buying a ticket and spending an evening watching a great show, supporting the Opera House means supporting Valparaiso's historic past and bright future.

"I think volunteering at Memorial Opera House is really worthwhile," Paquin said. "They put on some really good shows and I also buy season tickets in addition to volunteering my time because I just really enjoy the shows they have here. They are excellent."

This excellence allows Memorial Opera House to touch lives beyond their performances and events to become a great local asset for the community. Memorial Opera House brings together culture, art, and education to serve a community that values the talent Valparaiso citizens have to offer.

"We fill an integral place in the community by offering the arts to all ages," Smith said.

The bands who performed at Rock the House include: Mac McElhaney, BB & The Players, Ronn Barany, Nick Danger, Nicole Jamrose And Mark D Solacich, Big Top, Charles Burton of Carlos Ramos, Firepoint, Andrew Cyprian, Buck Daddy, Chris Grove of Eddie Money and Billy O of Survivor, Ripley Street, Darren Enloe Band, Dreamz, M.O.B., and Stonewave.

Figure 8 Brewing and Broadway Music generously sponsored the event. Memorial Opera House and community arts programs benefit hugely from corporate sponsorship. For more information about how to sponsor an event, email Michelle Smith at

For more information about upcoming performances and how to purchase tickets, please visit Memorial Opera House's website at

Click here to see more photos from Rock the House!