Marta Becket is leaving the stage, but not her opera house

The 87-year-old former ballerina has clocked more than 45 years of performing.
Photo: Sam Morris

You can be forgiven, I suppose, for permanently departing the stage when you’ve clocked more than 45 years performing for your fans, and when you can no longer dance, and when you find the demands of even a “sitting down show” too physically exhausting, especially when you’re well into your 80s. Yes, that’s completely understandable. We cannot ask otherwise. That would be wrong.

But without Marta Becket filling the small Amargosa Opera House that she created decades ago from the ruins of a rain-damaged community center, there’s the concern of it being shuttered forever, of Becket, 87, locking the doors and cutting us off from her murals covering the walls and ceiling of the large, one-room space. Rest assured, that will not happen, says Rich Regnell, director of operations at the opera house and hotel and friend of Becket’s, who says she plans to host a series of movie-and-dinner nights at the theater, beginning with video screenings of her own stage shows.

The Details

She’s also looking to schedule performances by small troupes and will meet with potential donors in an effort to raise funds for repairs to the deteriorating adobe structure. Then there’s the endowment needed to preserve the hotel and Becket’s legacy when she’s gone. Mainly, however, Becket says she’ll be painting and selling her artwork, a less-demanding task than writing, producing and choreographing her own shows.

So how does she feel about leaving the stage? “I saw this day coming years ago,” the longtime ballerina said last week. “At the time, I was sad. Now I feel relieved.”

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