Boy Scout helps behind scenes at opera house

By Dick Mason, The Observer April 24, 2013 09:57 am

Boy Scout Braydon Olson poses for a photo next to the shelves he made for the Elgin Opera House for his Eagle project. (DICK MASON/The Observer)
Boy Scout Braydon Olson poses for a photo next to the shelves he made for the Elgin Opera House for his Eagle project. (DICK MASON/The Observer)

by DICK MASON / The Observer 

ELGIN — It is easy to miss this faded sign in a window outside the north entrance of the Elgin Opera House.

The placard does not list the opera house’s upcoming productions. Instead, it tells of the building’s past. The sign reads “Elgin Police Department,’’ and behind it is a former jail space. The area is now a valuable part of the Elgin Opera House thanks to the efforts of Boy Scout Braydon Olson of Imbler. 

The Boy Scout extensively cleaned and painted the floor and walls of the old jail, converting it into an important storage room for the opera house. The converted room is making a difference for people putting on theater productions at the opera house, providing a place where costumes and props can be stored. Previously, they were packed in a structure outside the opera house. Finding items in it 

was difficult and time consuming.

“This is a major improvement for us,” said Terry Hale, artistic director for the Elgin Opera House. 

Marsha Salisbury of the Elgin Opera House is also is grateful to have the new space. 

“It is a huge help,” Salisbury said.

Salisbury noted that it is now much easier to properly care for the many costumes at the opera house because they will no longer be packed together.

“Things will not be mashed up and broken,” Salisbury said.

The old jail space became available to the Elgin Opera House recently when it was added to the area the opera house rents from the city. The jail space had not been used for many decades in Elgin, which no longer has a police department. 

Olson, the son of Danielle and Gary Olson of Imbler, did more than upgrade the old jail space.

The Boy Scout built shelves for a room in the basement of the opera house, which are now used to store props for the current production of  “Grease.” The opera house’s extensive paint collection will be stored there after the productions of  “Grease” end on May 4.

An eighth-grader at Imbler High School, Olson also did extensive work on the ceiling in the men’s dressing room. The ceiling was in dire need of work because boards were sticking out of it. Olson, a member of Troop 517, repaired the boards, put insulation between them and then installed drywall, enhancing the appearance of the ceiling and helping soundproof it. Previously, people in the dressing room had to be quiet during a production because the audience could easily hear them since there was no ceiling insulation. 

“The boards (of the ceiling) were literally the floor of the stage,” Hale said.

Hale credits Olson with doing an excellent job of orchestrating the Elgin Opera House project.

“He is a natural leader,” Hale said.