Grand Ole Opry unveils emotional new mini-movie - Southern Business Review

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Friday, July 5, 2019

Grand Ole Opry unveils emotional new mini-movie




Guests who sign up for tours of the Grand Ole Opry House already receive thorough, guided access to the Opry’s backstage area that includes the stars’ dressing rooms and mailboxes. Additionally, they are treated to stories from the Opry’s rich history, get to see the stage from behind the heavy, red curtain and occasionally rub elbows with country music’s biggest stars. However, the Opry’s new immersive film and custom-built theater The Circle Room take the experience a step further for visitors on the daytime tour.


Hosted by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, the multidimensional film recounts the Opry’s 94-year journey through the eyes of its guests, members and young singers who want nothing more than to be a member of the institution’s family. 


“Ever wonder why country music loves the Grand Ole Opry so much?” Brooks asks during the movie. “It’s because this stage is the one place on earth where for decades the past, present and future of country music come together in every show."


“At the center of that stage is a circle, where history lives and dreams come true,” Yearwood adds. 


“Today you get to be a part of that circle, you get to be a part of that dream,” Brooks tells viewers.


The Circle Room, which was formerly a gift shop, is the last piece of a $12 million Opry House expansion and renovation project intended to enhance the Opry guest experience. In addition to the film and theater, which doubles as a VIP room at night, the renovation also includes a retail store, upgraded food and beverages, a new parking area, and additional plaza upgrades that were completed in late 2018.




During the day, The Circle Room is set up like a large in-home theater with elaborate, theatrical LED lighting. Tufted leather couches and arm chairs keep tour patrons comfortable as multicolored hues dance across the room and side screens show historical videos and photos. Brooks and Yearwood are projected onto a curved surface that looks like silver fringe and creates a holographic effect.  


“There are 100 reasons why people come to the Opry,” said Sally Williams, senior vice president of programming and artist relations for Opry Entertainment. “But they come here because for some reason they are drawn here. I believe there is such an emotional core to the Grand Ole Opry that it is our responsibility to try and help people feel that. I think people are compelled to come here, and the film is about helping people experience it.”


More than 100 artists are featured in the 12-minute clip that rewinds back to the first performer to be introduced on the Grand Ole Opry, DeFord Bailey, and reaches all the way to today’s stars, including Chris Young, Kelsea Ballerini and Luke Combs, the newest star to be invited to join the Opry family. Guests will see stars including Brad Paisley, Clint Black, Ashley McBryde, Reba McEntire and Martina McBride make emotional Opry debuts. And they’ll watch as tears are shed when singers Ballerini, Darius Rucker, Carrie Underwood, Dustin Lynch, Yearwood, Keith Urban and Blake Shelton are asked to join.


“This moment, right here, is hands down the highlight of my career,” Shelton said upon being asked to become a member. 




Craig Morgan, who is also featured in the video, explained that joining the Opry is like gaining a close-knit country music family. 


“People are going to get a sense of what the Opry is about and who it represents, the Opry entertainers and the people in our fan base when they watch that video,” Morgan said. “People will get to feel like they’re a part of it when they watch it.”


Colin Reed, chairman and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties Inc., explained making guests feel included was the objective of the project.  


“Today’s visitors to Nashville are coming for discovery,” he said. “They are seeking out experiences that will help them connect with country music and the artists they love. Our goal is to surprise our guests with an immersive experience that helps them understand not only the history of the Opry, but also why playing the Opry is such a career milestone for so many artists.”


Reach Cindy Watts at ciwatts@tennessean.com or 615-664-2227 and on Twitter @CindyNWatts.


Grand Ole Opry House admission


Daytime tours of the Grand Ole Opry House are $28 for children ages 4-11 and $33 for adults. Post-show tours are $27 for children ages 4-11 and $33 for adults. For tickets or more information, visit www.opry.com or call 1-800-SEE-OPRY.