Most people who watch live performances prefer to sit as close as possible to the stage so they can see the faces of those doing the performing. At the Grand Ole Opry, the choice seats are on the stage, behind the performers. There are actually seats at the back of the Opry stage where VIPs sit, watching the action from behind.
|Opry VIPs seats|
I’ve been in those seats and it’s a thrill, even if you do watch the backsides of Minnie Pearl and Chet Atkins (and yes, I’m showing my age here, was a seat warmer back in the 80s).
Perhaps this tradition harkens back to the Grand Ole Opry radio days, when people couldn’t see the performers anyway. Radio listeners also can’t see the performers coming and going noisily on and off the stage. Even today, there's one announcer sitting at a podium, and the performers casually come and go during the commercials. Like one big happy family.
|Porter Wagner's Dressing Room with its purple couch.|
That’s what’s so interesting about watching the Opry live even today at its grand and glorious new theater. It’s still a radio show and even though there’s a live audience, it’s still operated like one.
I visited the Grand Ole Opry recently and this time got a backstage pass as a journalist, which wasn’t as elitist as sitting on the stage, but we did get a tour of the dressing rooms. Porter Wagner’s was pretty funky, had a crazy purple sofa.
We did get to stand at the back of the stage briefly, watching Mandy Barnett perform in front of us. It was quite the thrill.
|What the Grand Ole Opry looks like from the front.|