By Linda Faas/MLN
This was not just any celebration of America’s Independence for the Eureka Casino Resort. The July 4 celebration at the Eureka Casino Resort was a bittersweet day for Greg Lee and the Eureka employee family; it was the first year Doris Lee, mother of Eureka CEO Greg Lee, was not present to greet her Mesquite friends and neighbors at the annual pops concert that she organized for the town nine years ago.
Mrs. Lee passed away in August at age 98.
Her absence from the 2019 celebration weighed on her Eureka family, prompting a discussion of how her memory might be honored in Mesquite where she has created such a legacy. After much deliberation, Eureka leaders approached the City of Mesquite with a proposal to significantly revamp the city-owned Mesquite Community Theatre building located at 150 North Yucca St.
The Eureka would subsequently manage the facility and underwrite a rich offering of performances to broaden the local cultural experience available for all ages. Such an array of outstanding musicians, speakers, children’s concerts and such, have generally been beyond the reach of many in our small town. In recognition for the investment and ongoing oversight, the facility would be renamed in honor of Doris Lee.
In announcing their proposal, Eureka COO Andre Carrier said, “Doris Lee felt music and art are essential to humanity and community.”
Mrs. Lee and her family have made their cultural presence felt in Las Vegas through Doris’ work as a founding board member of the Las Vegas Philharmonic and as founders of the Smith Center for Performing Arts. She was a sponsor of live music for performances of the Nevada Ballet Theatre, and was the driving force in bringing the Nevada Pops Orchestra to Mesquite for its annual July 4 performances. In Mesquite, the Lees and the Eureka have been constant supporters of the arts community through cash and in-kind donations, as well as personal involvement in events.
Mayor Al Litman views the Eureka proposal as having real benefit for the community. “The Eureka is a solid partner and everything they do is quality. No specific details are available at this point because an agreement must be drawn up and taken to City Council for approval.”
With major repairs needed for the building complex, such as a new roof and updated heating and air conditioning, a business partnership could provide financial backing that might not be shouldered by the city.
As far as future theater usage, the Eureka envisions that current users such as the Virgin Valley Theatre Group and others would continue to stage their traditional performances in the newly remodeled facility that seats an audience of about 210.
“We are simply looking to help bring more frequent, high quality attractions and greater variety to this under-used venue,” said Gerri Chasko, director of the Eureka Community Initiative. “There is no intention to turn it into a casino showroom. We do see that some of speakers’ programs that we currently sponsor in the Eureka Grand Canyon Ballroom could more effectively–and comfortably—be held in a theatre setting. We would expect to move some of those if the Eureka were to partner with the city on the project.”
Carrier and Chasko expect to reach out to the community to solicit best ideas and best practices in reshaping the theater experience to appeals to all ages. Carrier harks back to school days in Boston when the Boston Symphony performed concerts for local third graders, giving the kids familiarity with musicians such as world famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma. He sees such experiences as life-influencing, and he firmly believes small towns deserve to be afforded similar windows to world culture. “Doris Lee was always mindful of her obligation to the community that supported her, and we want the theatre to honor her leadership.”