GRAND BANK, N.L. — It was a night of firsts for the Grand Bank Regional Theatre July 7.
Its opening night gala, housed for the first time in the Bait Depot on the Grand Bank waterfront, welcomed a special guest, the Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador – another first in the company’s history.
Aide-de-Camp Marjorie Welsh escorted Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote and His Honour Howard Foote into the building.
Before artistic director Levi Curtis, the cast and the crew entertained their sponsors with glimpses of the four plays to be presented this summer.
“I’ve been here as your MHA and MP before at the opening night of the theatre to say how much I enjoy the theatre in Grand Bank,” Foote said. “I so wanted to be here tonight in this new role, again because it is my hometown.”
“It is nice to be here to say thank you to the cast and crew, to Levi and to anyone who make this such a successful event.”
Teasers of the season
Artistic director Levi Curtis and his crew/cast staged excerpts of the plays that will be presented this summer.
“Operation Roy, Al,” a family-friendly play written by Levi Curtis himself, is a Newfoundland comedy involving an outhouse, the queen and absolute mayhem.
“The Solitary Man,” featuring the music of Neil Diamond and also written by Levi Curtis, tells the story of an older man looking back on his life. The play takes the audience on his complete life journey.
Set in the 1980s, “Runaway,” written by Kathleen Hollett of this year’s cast, is the story of a group of individuals as they navigate their lives following a series of secrets, the trials of love, and learning to accept the uncontrollable circumstances that life throws at them.
“A Nice Family Christmas,” written by Phil Olson, is an adult comedy depicting a dysfunctional family Christmas that leads to hilarious family events.
Burin-Grand Bank MHA Carol Ann Haley encouraged everyone to get out this summer to take in the plays.
“Although we have a change in venue, I don’t expect the performance will change. I am confident we will still have a first class performance again this year,” she said.
Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews commended the Grand Bank Regional Theatre’s board of directors on the work it has done to keep the theatre alive in spite of the obstacles it had to face in securing a new venue.
“You have the council’s continued support,” he said. “I think we will have another successful year, but it depends on the sponsors and the people who come out to support the theatre. We have to spread the word.”
Placentia West-Bellevue MHA Mark Brown said he is pleased the Grand Bank Theatre has regional in its title.
“We need to pull on the same oar in everything we do, especially as it relates to tourism and culture,” he said.
Fortune Mayor Charles Penwell agreed.
“We are proud to say the ‘Feller from Fortune Festival’ will combine with the Grand Bank Regional Theatre for a one time show this year,” he said. “This is truly a regional thing with Grand Bank and Fortune involved. We can build on this and do many more things together in the future”.
Challenges – new venue
Jack Burfitt, chairperson of the Grand Bank Regional Theatre’s board of directors, explained the theatre faced some major challenges at the start of the 2018 season.
“Our regular theatre building was turned down because of structural problems. The board was left scrambling to find a new venue for the season,” Burfitt explained. “The Mayor, councillors and staff have made it possible for the theatre to use the community’s bait depot to continue.”
Burfitt said the present board of directors is determined to keep the theatre alive in Grand Bank and to ensure it’s made profitable like any business.
“We are determined to turn the ship around. Sponsors are an important part of their survival. We would like to see more business and individual sponsors to come on board,” he said. “Theatre is an important part of tourism to our community and to the Burin Peninsula as a whole.”