NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Grand Ole Opry will be resuming in-person performances after Nashville moves into phase three next week.
The historic stage will host a 95th anniversary show to 500 people in-person on October 3. Mayor John Cooper made the announcement during his weekly coronavirus update on Thursday.
"The Grand Ole Opry here pioneered the virtual community among socially-distanced fans of country music, extending the magic of the audience experience to millions," Cooper said. "They did it here first through radio, then TV and now the Internet. It knew how to touch our hearts without having to be physically in the same room. It's been doing that since 1925 at a valuable lesson for our times today."
Cooper said Ryman Hospitality has been working closely with the Metro Public Health Department to create a safety plan for Opry performers and fans.
Opry members Dierks Bentley, Terri Clark, Vince Gill and Lorrie Morgan will perform during the show. The performance will also serve as a celebration for Bentley's 15th anniversary as an Opry member.
"With gratitude to the artists who have visited the Opry since March, staff members and partners who have ensured the Opry went on every Saturday, and a worldwide audience for tuning in over the past six months, we are so excited as we plan to welcome fans back to the Opry House," said Dan Rogers, Opry vice president and executive producer. "So many loyal fans make plans early to be a part of our birthday weekend every year, and I am especially excited that many of those devoted familiar faces will be in the first in-house audience since late last winter. Of course, we will only be truly happy when we can return to capacity audiences and full Opry shows that are known around the world."
The Opry said operating plans include socially-distanced seating and mandatory masks for all guests and staff. No food or beverage service will be available.
Rogers said the Opry never stopped airing its weekly Saturday night show. However, this is the longest the show has gone without a live performance.
"This whole year has been almost unimaginable," said Rogers. "So, it's unimaginable really at this point that in a few days this big red curtain is going to go up for the first time in months and on that side of it will be a live audience of fans from around the country."