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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.

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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.

Celebrate the holiday season with Tomato Tomato’s Maritime Christmas

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On Friday, December 22 at 7:30 p.m., Tomato Tomato’s Maritime Christmas tour comes to the Fredericton Playhouse.

Saint John-based duo Tomato Tomato consists of husband and wife team John and Lisa McLaggan. They’re known for their clever and quirky songs that draw on traditional folk, bluegrass, blues and swing combined with their own interesting twist. Their new holiday album Pinecones and Cinnamon features both classic carols and new favourites.

Tomato Tomato will be joined by two special guests – Cape Breton’s Heather Rankin and Pictou County’s Dave Gunning for a night full of folk and country music, stories, memories, laughs and surprises. This family-friendly performance will remind you what makes a Maritime Christmas so special.

Tickets for Tomato Tomato’s Maritime Christmas are available through the Fredericton Playhouse box office by calling 458-8344 or online at www.theplayhouse.ca.

Playhouse seeks public feedback about performing arts centre project

Last month, on behalf of the Fredericton Playhouse board of directors, I provided an important update on the new regional performing arts centre to Fredericton City Council. Now, we’re looking for feedback from the public and community stakeholders as the project moves forward.

The first point we wanted to address was that the total project cost for a new facility in the City-owned parking lot at the foot of York Street has been reduced – initially the estimated project cost for this location was $51.3 million; now, it would cost an estimated $47.1 million.

York site

The estimated project cost to build a performing arts centre in the parking lot at the foot of York Street has been reduced from $51.3 million to $47.1 million.

As we’ve continued to make progress with this important project for our region, we’ve been able to better understand the various elements involved, and have been able to adjust the budget accordingly. The reduced costs are largely attributed to the elimination of land acquisition costs and updated construction costs.

While meeting with Council, we also presented a new site option, with two variations on how it could potentially be developed. Playhouse board and staff members have become concerned about the lack of momentum on moving the project forward at the York Street site, and the longer we wait to begin building, the greater the risk of the present Playhouse failing and closing.

This new option, which hadn’t been considered previously, would involve expanding the current Playhouse site at the corner of Queen and St. John Streets. The Playhouse hired architectural consultants to study the feasibility of this new option.

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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.

The new site would extend to the centre line of St. John Street, thereby reducing a portion of the street to one lane or closing it to vehicular traffic altogether, creating a pedestrian thoroughfare between the performing arts centre and the provincial legislature. It would also entail locating the facility closer to the sidewalk on Queen Street.

As mentioned, there were two variations presented – the first would involve completely demolishing the Playhouse and locating the new performing arts centre on the expanded site. Although the current plan (which includes an 850-seat theatre, a 300-seat studio theatre, larger lobbies, and shared support space) would fit on the new site, it would require a two-and-a-half-year interruption of service while the Playhouse is closed and the new centre is constructed.

The cost estimate for this option is $45.1 million, compared to $47.1 million on the York Street site.  The modestly lower construction cost is due to the fact that the Queen Street site requires less engineering to address the proximity to the St. John’s River’s spring freshet.

The second variation would see the existing auditorium within the Playhouse retained and improved (expanding from 709 to 800 seats), while the additional lobbies, support spaces, and a second 300-seat theatre are added to it.

Based on the architectural consultant’s study work, this option could be carried out using a phasing approach to construction that would reduce the closure of the Playhouse to two periods of four and seven months respectively. The estimated cost of this renovation and expansion option would be moderately less ($40.7 million) than a completely new building.

The board feels that all three options have both merits and challenges. We wanted to be exhaustive in our research and present an option that hadn’t been considered in the past.

Over the past few weeks since presenting these options to council, Playhouse representatives have been meeting with various community stakeholders, including the dozens of organizations that currently rent the Playhouse to present performances, as well as the downtown businesses and groups that will be impacted by this decision. We also recently conducted and completed a public opinion survey, which received an impressive response rate, with nearly 2,100 individuals and organizations providing their feedback.

There’s still time to express your opinion – I would encourage you to contact your city councillor to provide your feedback, and express what you like about the presented options, as well as any concerns you may have. You can learn more about these options and the regional performing arts centre project on our website at www.theplayhouse.ca/pac. The board will meet with City Council again in the coming weeks to present our findings from this consultation process, with the hope of moving forward with one of the three options.

We must move this important project forward. Confirming the financial investment from our provincial and federal governments is critical, and with the confirmation of the site and development plan, we will be able to begin the design process and hopefully see more concrete action from our funding partners.

Greg MacFarlane is the Vice-President of Fredericton Playhouse Inc.’s Board of Directors.