The buzz from the Kelowna Ballet show in Slave Lake hadn’t settled before the elves in the Stage North workshop were putting the finishing touches on the next season of shows. In fact they would have announced it at the Mar. 5 show, but for one of the groups not yet being signed.
However, says Stage North Association President Len Ramsey, the other six are rock solid, and here they are:
On Oct. 13 a Halifax band called ‘Port Cities’ comes to town and by the way, this and all other shows will be at the Legacy Centre.
Next up, on Nov. 17, is ‘legendary blues musician’ Jim Byrnes. On Dec. 3, back by popular demand is country musician Trevor Panczak, doing a special Christmas show.
Moving into the new year of 2018, we have ‘guitar god’ Jesse Roper on Jan. 20, followed by comedian and musician Chris Hall on Feb. 18.
The new season stretches all the way into April, with a show by the Toronto folk quintet Union Duke, on the 14th of that month.
So that only leaves one spot open, which would be a show sometime in March of 2018. Ramsey says Stage North is working out the details with an African dance group and feels pretty confident it will go ahead.
And if it doesn’t?
“Oh, we’ve got a Plan B, C, D, E and F,” he says.
The just-completed 2016/17 season was notable for a number of reasons. The big one was the move to the new Legacy Centre, after five seasons of shows at the SPEC Centre (St. Peter’s Ecumenical Church). Ramsey says the new space is “way less work” for the organizers (thanks mainly to having a proper, permanent stage). It also offers all sorts of possibilities in the type of shows that can be staged.
“The play (‘Cowboy: A Cowboy Story’) and the ballet wouldn’t have worked at the church,” he says.
Ballet Kelowna proved to be the big hit of the season, filling about 280 seats. The lowest attendance in the seven-show season was around 140. Ramsey says overall, attendance was only up slightly per show over last season, from 160 to 173 on average. But with two more shows, the total number of paying guests was quite a bit higher.
The sound system in the Legacy Centre is “a whole step up,” Ramsey adds. “Neil (Deas) can operate it from an iPad; it makes it a lot easier for him.”
The flexibility of the new venue extends to food service; Stage North has been able offer meals with or before its shows a couple of times, courtesy of Tony’s Custom Catering, which seems to be working out well. So does having a proper ‘green room,’ for the performers.
“That was important for the ballet people,” Ramsey says. “It opens all sorts of possibilities there.”
Looking ahead, Ramsey says the group is “pretty excited,” about the new season and – unlike many volunteer organizations – does not appear to be suffering from a shortage of help.
“It provides its own perks,” he says. “We’ve kept our group pretty intact for four or five years.”