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Fredericton City Council approves expanded Queen Street site for new regional performing arts centre

On Monday evening, Fredericton City Council approved an expanded version of the existing Playhouse’s Queen Street site as the location for a new regional performing arts centre.

In December, Greg MacFarlane, Vice President of the Playhouse board, presented an option to construct a new centre, built in phases on the existing Playhouse site and extending onto a portion of St. John Street. The concept was recommended to Council as the preferred option, following two months of public consultation by the non-profit organization.

Having received a staff report, council adopted all six of the Playhouse recommendations regarding the project:

  1. Select the expanded Queen/St. John Street site as the location for a new regional performing arts centre;
  2. Approve an all-new construction development option that will be planned and designed in such a way as to reduce Playhouse closures as much as possible;
  3. Direct City staff to immediately conduct the necessary technical study of St. John Street to determine the best configurations of a reduced street width to accommodate the performing arts centre; and to consult with the Legislative Administration Committee accordingly;
  4. Direct City staff to work in partnership with Fredericton Playhouse Inc. to develop a procurement strategy for a design team for the Playhouse board and City Council’s consideration;
  5. Approve a construction budget of $33 million (excluding soft costs, site preparation, planning, campaign costs, and contingencies) to be used as a guide to develop the design; and
  6. Work with Fredericton Playhouse Inc. to resubmit the request for capital funding from the Province of New Brunswick and the Government of Canada, with the updated site, development plan, and project budget.

 

“We’re very pleased to have our recommendations approved by City Council,” MacFarlane said. “This project is about to get very real as we move forward with the design work. We are hopeful that our federal and provincial partners will also move quickly to confirm their investment so we can see shovels in the ground in 2019.”

MacFarlane indicated that Playhouse representatives intend to move quickly with their partners to complete the additional study work and to develop a process to hire a design team.

“Now that we have a confirmed site, we are excited to move forward at a more rapid pace, tackling the next phases concerning planning, design and funding.”

The building of a new regional performing arts centre is a priority for the non-profit organization and the City of Fredericton, as the current Playhouse facility is at the end of its life.

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Rising folk-pop musician Basia Bulat combines classic songwriting with a radiant, contemporary sound

13. Basia

Coming to the Playhouse on Saturday, February 3 at 7:30 p.m. during Fredericton Frostival, Basia Bulat will wow audiences with her electrifying voice and memorable lyrics.

A rising star on Canada’s folk-pop music scene, Bulat has been nominated for multiple Juno Awards, and has had two albums shortlisted for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize. She often appears solo in gigantic concert halls, winning over crowds with an autoharp or charango, stomping feet and two mighty lungs.

Bulat’s songs have been adapted for major performances with symphony orchestras, she’s been tapped for prestigious tributes to Leonard Cohen and The Band, and she’s performed at music festivals around the world, including a highly praised show at Fredericton’s own Shivering Songs Festival in 2017.

Her latest album, Good Advice, was released in 2016. This fizzing, phosphorescing pop album features 10 songs about desire and redemption, lit up with the bottle-rocket of a liberated, faintly psychedelic vibe. See Bulat live in concert to experience her classic, sterling songwriting mixed with a radiant, contemporary sound.

Tickets for Basia Bulat are available through the Fredericton Playhouse box office by calling 458-8344 or online at www.theplayhouse.ca.

Girls Nite Out will have audiences laughing in the aisle with hysterical stand-up and improv

12. Girls Nite Out

On Friday, February 2 at 7:30 p.m. during Fredericton Frostival, the Playhouse Spotlight Series presents an evening of stand-up comedy and improv called Girls Nite Out.

Led by beloved Canadian comic Elvira Kurt, Girls Nite Out has been wowing audiences for 10 years. This all-female variety show features comedians with Second City roots, who will have audiences laughing in the aisle over their hysterical stand-up and improv performance.

A three-time Gemini Award-nominated comedian, Kurt has written for television shows such as This Hour Has 22 Minutes and George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. She has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Montreal’s Just for Laughs, and on CBC Radio’s Q.

Kurt will be joined by Jennine Profeta, Diana Frances, Karen Parker and musical director Kevin Baker.

Tickets for Girls Nite Out are available through the Fredericton Playhouse box office by calling 458-8344 or online at www.theplayhouse.ca.

Toronto Dance Theatre returns with five masterworks from Artistic Director Christopher House

11. TDT

Contemporary dance company Toronto Dance Theatre returns to the Playhouse on Thursday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m. during Fredericton Frostival to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special program called House Mix.

Back by popular demand after a stunning performance in 2014, Toronto Dance Theatre’s latest show features a mixed program with five masterworks from Artistic Director Christopher House’s career. The pieces range from the kinetic classic Vena Cava to the contemporary creations Echo Dark 1 and Martingales.

Since it was founded in 1968, Toronto Dance Theatre has produced a unique body of Canadian choreography, and has influenced the artistic development of dancers, choreographers and other collaborators from across the country. Since House became the company’s artistic director in 1994, Toronto Dance Theatre has collaborated with international artists, bringing new perspectives to Canada’s dance scene.

In addition to this performance, the Playhouse is pleased to present an Experience More! Repertory Masterclass for Dancers on Wednesday, January 24 at 7 p.m. at the Playhouse. Intended for experienced dance students ages 13-17, this class will provide participants with the opportunity to learn from a professional company member from Toronto Dance Theatre while building strength and honing their technique.

Tickets for Toronto Dance Theatre are available through the Fredericton Playhouse box office by calling 458-8344 or online at www.theplayhouse.ca.

An “experience” makes a thoughtful gift

We always look forward to the holiday season at the Fredericton Playhouse, and once again, the past month has been full of magical, festive performances. It’s a joy to see friends and family come together to experience our heartwarming lineup of holiday shows.

This November and December have been exceptionally busy at the Playhouse, and I hope you’ve had the chance to stop by for one of our many Christmas performances. With everything from concerts by the Barra MacNeils, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Symphony New Brunswick with David Myles, NB Country Showcase and Oh What a Night’s tribute to Frankie Valli and Andy Williams, to classic favourites like The Nutcracker by Dance Fredericton and Theatre New Brunswick’s A Christmas Carol, we’ve had something for every taste this holiday season.

The fun continues over the next couple of weeks, with Tomato Tomato’s Maritime Christmas show coming up on Dec. 22, and DuffleBag Theatre, with two Pay-What-You-Will performances of Cinderella right after Christmas on Dec. 29.

Of course, the magic of live performance isn’t confined to the holidays – it continues throughout the year. No matter what season, it’s always a good idea to take some time away from our busy lives and spend time with our loved ones, enjoying a shared experience.

Gifts of experience are a great alternative to more materialistic presents, and there are many options to choose from within the arts and culture sector in particular. From gallery memberships, to a registration in a class or workshop, to tickets to a festival or performance, there are many ways to provide your friends and family with an interesting new experience that will appeal to their interests.

The Playhouse has dozens of shows already scheduled for 2018, offering a wide range of performances to choose from if you’re searching for a last minute Christmas gift.

If you have a classic rock fan on your list, Classic Albums Live’s performance of Supertramp: Breakfast in America would make the perfect gift. This perennial Playhouse favourite recreates the album in its entirety, including songs like “Goodbye Stranger” and “Take the Long Way Home.”

Any dance lover would be ecstatic to receive tickets to receive tickets to see Toronto Dance Theatre. The acclaimed company is celebrating its 50th anniversary season with a special program that celebrates Artistic Director Christopher House’s career.

Toronto Dance

Toronto Dance Theare

Looking for something for the party animal on your list? Audience members will be dancing in the aisles when Lemon Bucket Orkestra returns to the Playhouse.  Canada’s only balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-punk superband inspires joy in everyone who has the chance to see them perform live.

For comedy fans, we’re looking forward to Girls Nite Out, an all-female variety show led by Elvira Kurt. This show features both stand-up and improv performances by comedians with Second City roots.

If you’re shopping for an indie pop aficionado, Basia Bulat tickets make the perfect gift. She’s a rising star on Canada’s folk-pop music scene, and has been nominated for a Juno and shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize thanks to her electrifying voice and memorable lyrics.

Hip theatre buffs will enjoy PostSecret: The Show. Based on the internet phenomenon, this live stage show is an immersive, poignant journey through the humour and humanity of the personal stories we keep to ourselves and, on rare occasion, share with others.

If someone on your list is a fan of a cappella music, I recommend Cadence, Canada’s premier vocal group. These four performers bring an infectious energy an uncanny verve to every song they sing.

And for those seeking a gift the whole family can enjoy, Flip FabriQue is the perfect option. This astonishing, lively cirque show will have audience members of all ages smiling from ear to ear, featuring acrobatics, hula hoops, trampolines and lots of humour.

Of course, for those who are especially difficult to shop for, we always have gift certificates available through the box office, allowing your recipient to choose their own performance.

The holiday magic doesn’t need to end with December – with the gift of performance you can keep it alive throughout the year ahead.

Tim Yerxa is the Executive Director of the Fredericton Playhouse.

Fredericton Playhouse board recommends building new performing arts centre on Queen and St. John Street site

In a report to Fredericton City Council on Monday, the board of directors of Fredericton Playhouse Inc. provided the results of a series of public consultations concerning the development of a new performing arts centre, and made a key recommendation to move forward with a new-construction option to be built on an expanded version of the existing Playhouse site.

Playhouse representatives last met with Council in October to present alternatives to the plan to build the performing arts centre in the City-owned parking lot at the foot of York Street. These new options were developed due in part to a lack of momentum on moving the project forward on the York Street site, as well as the increased risk of the present Playhouse failing and closing.

Over the past two months, Fredericton Playhouse Inc. conducted several consultation activities, including surveying the public, meeting with Playhouse user groups, surveying organizations that use live performance venues in Fredericton, and meeting with various other stakeholders.

“We were thrilled by the many detailed responses we received over the course of this public consultation process,” said Greg MacFarlane, Vice President of the Playhouse’s board. “It’s evident there’s a great deal of enthusiasm and excitement surrounding the project within our community.”

On Monday, MacFarlane revealed that 2,078 individuals responded to the public survey. Eighty-six per cent of respondents are overall supportive of the project, and the majority prefers the new site option presented to Council in October – an expanded version of the current Playhouse site at the corner of Queen and St. John Streets.

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The new site option would extend the performing arts centre to the centre line of St. John Street, and closer to the sidewalk on Queen Street.

Respondents showed nearly equal support for the two development options for this site – either demolishing the existing facility to create a completely new building, or renovating a portion and expanding the current building.

The Playhouse board considered all options, expressing concern about timeliness, the effect of closures, and the best long-term outcome for the community. Ultimately, they determined that choosing 100 per cent new construction was the best option to achieve desired production capabilities, reduce risks associated with refurbishments, and meet the needs of the community for future generations.

The organization recommended that council consider a variation on the previously presented options, using a phased construction approach to construct a completely new facility on the current Playhouse site, rather than shutting down the existing Playhouse entirely for 2.5 years. The estimated total project cost associated with this option would be $45.1 million.

“We see this as the best of both worlds,” MacFarlane said. “We’re able to have the brand new, state-of-the-art facility that we believe will best serve the community for many years to come, but we’ll be building it in such a way that we can significantly reduce the amount of time the building will be closed, allowing us to continue to offer performances and programs during the construction period.”

The Playhouse also recommended that council direct City staff to conduct a technical study of St. John Street; direct City staff to work in partnership with Fredericton Playhouse Inc. to develop a procurement strategy for a design team; approve of a hard construction budget of $33 million as a guideline to design the new facility; and work with the Playhouse to resubmit requests for capital funding from the provincial and federal governments with the updated development plan.

Councillors responded positively to the recommendations, and have asked city staff to give them a report before making their decisions early in the new year.

The building of a new regional performing arts centre is a priority for the non-profit organization and the City of Fredericton, as the current Playhouse facility is at the end of its life.

DuffleBag Theatre’s Cinderella is full of spontaneous fun and audience involvement

29. Cinderella

Playhouse Kidstage Series favourite DuffleBag Theatre returns to Fredericton on Friday, December 29 with two performances of Cinderella at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

The “nearly world-famous” DuffleBag Theatre has been performing since 1992, starting at the London International Children’s Festival in Ontario. Now based in Toronto, DuffleBag performs over 600 shows a year across Canada, the U.S. and internationally. All are performed with the same sense of fun audiences have come to expect.

This holiday season, DuffleBag Theatre brings the classic story of Cinderella to life, with lots of hilarious twists along the way. DuffleBag’s fractured fairy tales are an annual favourite, full of spontaneous fun and audience involvement.

DuffleBag Theatre’s Cinderella is a Pay What You Will show, a pricing idea offered on select Playhouse performances. This initiative was introduced with a goal of increasing access to Playhouse programs, and encouraging patrons to take a chance on new and exciting performances. For more information about how Pay What You Will works, please click here.

Tickets for Cinderella are available through the Fredericton Playhouse box office by calling 458-8344 or online at www.theplayhouse.ca.