Produced by the leader in live entertainment, Calvin Gilmore, and highly acclaimed by countless National media – these shows set the standard. If you are looking for the best live entertainment attractions in Myrtle Beach, look no further than The Carolina Opry Theater.Learn More:
The impressive variety of live music shows in Myrtle Beach can be traced back to one man, Calvin Gilmore, and his singular vision that first-rate entertainment could thrive along the Grand Strand.Learn More:
Planning a group, corporate, or school event and looking for the best LIVE entertainment in Myrtle Beach?, Then look no further than The Carolina Opry Theater! We’ve been the #1 Group Destination for over 30 years! With 4 award winning shows to choose from we’ve got something for everyone!Learn More:
The impressive variety of live music shows in Myrtle Beach can be traced back to one man, Calvin Gilmore, and his singular vision that first-rate entertainment could thrive along the Grand Strand. The Carolina Opry was the first show to open in Myrtle Beach and the only show in the area for 7 years.
On June 2, 1986, when Calvin Gilmore opened his doors to the first paying customers of The Carolina Opry, few locals or vacationers knew what to expect. Another country bar? Maybe Hee Haw at the beach?
What they got was a breath of fresh air. A sensational show in a cool theater. The kind of show you could take your kids or your grandmother to—but it also blew back the hair of your hard-to-please brother-in-law from New York. By late summer the word had gotten around that something spectacular was happening at The Carolina Opry, and the long line of patrons snaked out the door and around the building. Tour buses stood bumper to bumper. Gilmore had only 12 entertainers and musicians to work with, himself among the number, but they packed a wallop.
The inauguration and phenomenal success of The Carolina Opry Christmas Special (“The Christmas Show of the South”) made Myrtle Beach a year-round destination.
Many may have forgotten that thirty years ago Myrtle Beach rolled up the sidewalks after Labor Day. It was hard to find a restaurant open for lunch in December. Then the Christmas tour busses began to roll to The Carolina Opry Christmas Special. Families from throughout the region came to Myrtle Beach in December just to see the show. Hotels and restaurants not only opened—they filled. And a new seasonal market was born.
Again, Gilmore was outgrowing his two theater locations. In 1991 Gilmore broke ground on the 2,200-seat state-of-the-art theater that The Carolina Opry now calls home.
It was also around this time that national media exposure of The Carolina Opry began to culminate. Gilmore was a legend in the area and was beginning to bring Myrtle Beach into a national light. It was during this time that corporate investors saw Gilmore’s model and his success and decided to try their hand at it as well. Numerous theaters came to Myrtle Beach and the theater market eventually reached saturation and many of those theaters closed shortly after they opened. Throughout this period, The Carolina Opry remained the standard other theaters tried to live up to and was one of the few theaters to remain not only standing, but successful through this period.
The Carolina Opry is the only show on the Grand Strand to have one owner that is local, performs in the show, produces the show, directs the show, watches the show constantly and reads every single comment card himself. Gilmore’s dedication, creativity, ingenuity, and courage brought theater to Myrtle Beach and have kept The Carolina Opry at the forefront of that industry.
USA today credits Calvin Gilmore and The Carolina Opry with “Starting the Myrtle Beach boom” and attracting investment groups to follow in his footsteps with attractions like Broadway at the Beach and theaters like Alabama Theatre, both of which were yet to be built at this time.
South Carolina’s first weekly television series, Country Music Spotlight, airs on The Family Channel live from The Carolina Opry Theater, named for the company’s in-house showbill, Spotlight Magazine.
It starred Calvin Gilmore and other featured performers from The Carolina Opry along with Merle Haggard, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, Travis Tritt, John Michael Montgomery, the Gatlin Brothers, Martina McBride, and Patty Loveless.
Calvin Gilmore Productions wins the state’s highest and most coveted award, the Governor’s Cup for Overall Excellence in the Tourism Field.
Calvin Gilmore accepted the prestigious award from Mac McIlroy, Executive Vice President of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and John W. Lawrence, Executive Director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. Speaking to some 500 tourism industry professionals from across the state, Gilmore said, “This is a special evening for all of our 240 employees, who have worked very hard to make a significant impact on South Carolina tourism.”
The Wall Street Journal credits Gilmore with “touching off the next boom in Myrtle Beach,” influencing several developers to follow suit with attractions such as Fantasy Harbour and Broadway at the Beach, and adding over 10,000 new jobs to the area.
Calvin Gilmore is named Pioneer of the Year, an honor bestowed each year on the individual who has best exhibited a significant, positive impact on the Myrtle Beach area. Gilmore is also presented with the Palmetto Patriot Award, recognizing individuals who have made outstanding contributions to their fellow citizens and the State of South Carolina. The award is the highest the Lieutenant Governor can bestow.
Calvin Gilmore is honored in his hometown of Lebanon, Missouri, with an induction to its Wall of Honor at an annual banquet and gala. He is recognized alongside 4 others, including the late playwright Lanford Wilson and writer Ellen Gray Massey, for bringing honor to the community through their lifetime achievements. Gilmore is introduced with remarks by childhood friend and farm neighbor Steve Swaim, now a successful businessman in Lebanon and Springfield.